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Gatsby, what Gatsby?

As the movie began, there was no telling where it was going. Unless, you know, you read the book in tenth grade like half of the English-speaking world did (or read a Sparknotes summary online like the other half)…but nonetheless, it was the film’s stylistic intelligence that was unpredictable. It had the cinematic masterpiece quality that Luhrmann has perfected through his theatrical musical films like Moulin Rouge! and Romeo + Juliet, translated beautifully into an amalgamation of culture, sex, and hope that is The Great Gatsby.

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The cinematography is pretty damn flawless, from the white-curtained introduction of Daisy Buchanan to the practiced presentation of Gatsby himself. The book was followed to a tee, for the most part, and translated shockingly well onscreen. The National Post called it “less a movie than an event,” and – without taking away from my respect and enjoyment of the film – that’s exactly right. Scott Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby over three years, from 1922-1925. Luhrmann has been working on his production for roughly five years now, and the world has been waiting.

gatsby houseCall it “computer-generated whoosh” if you must, but its looks are pretty fucking epic. And underneath all of that, the novel stands tall. Much of the dialogue comes straight from Fitzgerald in 1925, and while I could have done without the fluffy skywriting sequences from Carraway’s alcoholic future, it wasn’t a bad way to lay out the movie. While much of the opening half of the movie is rushed brilliance and forced flow, its crazy atmosphere sucks you in.

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Carey Mulligan’s dewy, soft complexion and gentle stature set up Daisy perfectly. Last played by Mia Farrow in 1974, Daisy is one of those controversial characters that stirs up a lot of conflict. Luhrmann cites Daisy Buchanan as “a kind of social supernova; she’s so attractive and dazzling, and she makes you feel as if you’re the only person in the world… In everybody’s mind they have a Daisy Buchanan. It’s like Scarlett O’Hara, how touchy a subject that is. I think of Scarlett as being this precious child star who’s been a star all her life, and that’s true about Daisy.” Luhrmann calls the Gatsby-Daisy relationship “one of those chemically dangerous relationships,” and there’s no better way to put it.

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During the (long) audition process for the role, Leo, the fountain of all modern wisdom, said “Daisy has got to be a kind of hothouse flower, something that Gatsby has never encountered before, such that he feels and obsession to protect her.” Carey Mulligan does just that. She enamours you with her innocence and docile geniality, and wraps you up in her creamy speech.

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Her voice is a major part of her character, described in Fitzgerald’s novel as “low, thrilling,” “exhilarating,” full of “fluctuating, feverish warmth,” and “full of money.” Speaking of full of money, she’s also married to the talented and delicious Marcus Mumford.

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LOOK HOW PRECIOUS. Their children will be phenomenally ahead of our time.

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Leo DiCaprio’s Gatsby was even better than I expected. He had perfect timing, an incredible measure of Gatsby’s delicate control and internal servitude, and was seriously fucking awesome. Granted, he’s pretty much got the world’s respect behind him before he even walks onscreen, but his Jay Gatz speaks for itself as well. You can feel the delusion, reminiscent of his tortured characters in Inception and Shutter Island, a balance of crazed obsession and classy-as-fuck confidence. Gatsby is a measured, detailed man of expectation, and DiCaprio is the same. He “burrows deep into the role, loosing the obsession at the heart of Fitzgerald’s tale; beneath Gatsby’s smooth exterior roil the same tightly wound furies that hounded DiCaprio’s Howard Hughes in The Aviator.

“If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about [Gatsby], some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away. This responsiveness had nothing to do with that flabby impressionability, which is dignified under the name of “creative temperament”- it was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again.”

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It had the grandeur that you expect from Luhrmann’s musical past, the expansive, wide-angle, 3-D takeover that brings the film to life. If you liked Moulin Rouge, you’ll likely enjoy TGG. Bright, vivacious, and never lacking in depth, the setting and lush atmosphere worked  perfectly to set the scene. The introductions to Tom and Jordan felt observed and far-away, like you were watching a piece of theatre, rather than cinema. Luhrmann explains his decision to make the film in 3D in the May 2013 issue of Vogue. After seeing a screening of Hitchcock’s Dial M For Murder, what struck him:

“…wasn’t that things come out of the screen, it was watching Grace Kelly move in space where the camera wasn’t moving. It was much more like the theater. It brought power to the performance. The actor was more in-control of the drama. The camera didn’t have to generate energy. It blew my mind… the real special effect in Gastby could be watching some of the finest actors in the world doing a ten-page scene in a room in the Plaza Hotel. That could be a visual effect.”

This was the first (and most epic) adaptation of Gatsby in several decades, and the book has often been dubbed “unfilmable.” Literature learned lessons from Gatsby, and continue to ’til this day. Film might be able to learn something too.

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While the Jay-Z produced soundtrack may have taken some people out of the roaring Twenties zone they were in, I thought it was balanced perfectly. With big, power voices from Lana Del Rey, Florence, and Queen Bey, the power-pop side of the soundtrack shone. While “Young and Beautiful” might have finished the film as a slightly overused motif theme for Gaisy (looool), the jazzy mash-ups from Will.I.Am, Fergie, and Kid Koala kept it fresh and entertaining.

Leo was sublime, and Mulligan balanced beauty and carelessness as only Daisy Buchanan can. Jay and Daisy were casted to perfection, but I still can’t help but feel awkward about Tobey Maguire. Maybe it’s because even in 3-D, he has no visible lips. Maybe it’s because he’s Peter Parker. Either way, it took me out of the scene and I felt genuinely uncomfortable with his Carraway at parts. He just didn’t fit.

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“Baz felt very strongly that the book’s nature was quintessentially modern, that the twenties was the time when everybody came to grips with the twentieth century,” said his wife, Oscar-winning costume designer Catherine Martin. Luhrmann takes that modernity to a new level with this visually-laden piece of work, and it deserves some respect. Five years, people. That’s time for like five babies. Or six. Or something.

A sick soundtrack, incredibly strong performances, and a decent rendition of a great American novel on the big screen… just go see it. It’s fancy and fun and exciting; you know you’re curious. 3-D or not, I seriously recommend catching this green light before it goes out.

This post is both spoiler- and gluten-free.

1. “It’s a great advantage not to drink among hard-drinking people.”

“You can hold your tongue, and, moreover, you can time any little irregularity of your own so that everybody else is so blind that they don’t see or care.” The Great Gatsby, page 77.

ADVICE FOR THE AGES. Seriously. It can be just as entertaining, and less messy.

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2. It teaches you something about language.

The book isn’t super focused on character development. You don’t really get a straight-up backstory from Fitzgerald, he winds a tale of sobering language and fantastical word choice that speaks differently. The language isn’t difficult, but it’s woven together in a timeless, sophisticated manner than just flows. You can really sense the textures and feelings he writes:

“She was only extemporizing, but a stirring warmth flowed from her, as if her heart were trying to come out to you concealed in one of those breathless, thrilling words. ”

“Her face, above a spotted dress of dark blue crepe-de-chine, contained no facet or gleam of beauty, but there was an immediately perceptible vitality about her as if the nerves of her body were continually smouldering.”

“In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars […] already the halls and salons and verandas are gaudy with primary colours, and hair shorn in strange new ways, and shawls beyond the dreams of Castile. The bar is in full swing, and floating rounds of cocktails permeate the garden outside, until the air is alive with chatter and laughter, and casual innuendo and introductions forgotten on the spot, and enthusiastic meetings between women who never knew each other’s names.”

His words had life and verve, and he was very familiar with Lesson #3.

3. The Twenties were sexy.

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Everyone is cheating on each other from the very beginning, and whether that’s due to their prohibition-driven lifestyle, or their boozy parties, the foundation of much of their passion comes from taboo illegalities and forbidden badassery. Without all the adultery and cheating that goes on in the novel, there would be little to no plot. Not too shabby for the old days. It’s almost a hundred years old and still reads like new. Hence, these timeless lessons!

4. And jazz was badass.

In the twenties, jazz was an unadulterated, unfiltered, unmoderated, almost underground lifestyle, and the powerful music embodied exactly that. Baz Luhrmann’s new take on the film opts for a hip-hop core to the soundtrack, produced by none other than Jay-Z. Considering hip-hop started out the same way jazz did, it’s pretty damn fitting.

Get a FULL first listen to the soundtrack HERE on NPR Radio! 

5. “Reserving judgements is a matter of infinite hope.”

Basically: we would love to be judgement-free as a people, but it’s a pretty damn unattainable ideal. While that doesn’t slow our love for self-improvement and attempt at impartiality, Fitzgerald knew this in 1925, and it’s gone down as one of the more famous lines from the novel.

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6. Characters do not have to be likeable for the work to be great.

One of the major reasons I hated this book in high school was because the characters just seemed ridiculous. This Daisy girl really doesn’t seem all that special, and everyone just seemed to be in this weird unreality that I didn’t get. On the surface, it’s a book of first world problems and the dissolution of the American Dream, but gaaaaah it’s so much more than that.

In this fabulous summary by John Green, he lays it out perfectly: “You’re not supposed to like Daisy Buchanan, at least not in the uncomplicated way that you like, say, cupcakes. […] She doesn’t have to be likeable to be interesting.” WITHOUT ACCEPTING THIS, YOU ARE READING WITH YOUR EYES CLOSED. YOU ARE A DEAF MAN AT A CONCERT. I want to shout it from the rooftops: ignorance is NOT bliss.

The full video is below, and is one of the best, easiest tools to simultaneously enjoy, understand, and respect this novel properly. Watch the intro if you’ve never read the book, but the rest of the video assumes you’ve read the book. So if you haven’t, get on it. Seriously, the book is less than 200 pages, and not a hard read. Just do it.

7. “You can’t repeat the past.” -Nick Carraway

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Watch it once for the music. Beyonce, Lana, Florence, it’s just a shitstorm of epic-lady-voice-power, and it’s awesome. Plus the Beyonce song is an Amy Winehouse cover and it’s featuring Andre 3000.

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Watch it once more for Leonardo DiCaprio.

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Watch it once more for the cinematography. And the vibe. And the general epic 20s-ness.

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Watch it again for the music. GAH, Florence.

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Now go put on some headphones, lock your doors, turn off your lights, and fullscreen it.

Watch it once more for the green light. Go out and read Gatsby again if you seriously didn’t get that reference and you actually want to maximize your enjoyment of the movie.

The tracklisting for the soundtrack (produced by Jay-Z, who I’m seeing perform with JT this summer, just saaaaayin’) was released today as well:

  • 100$ Bill – JAY Z
  • Back To Black – Beyoncé x André 3000
  • Bang Bang – will.i.am
  • A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got) – Fergie + Q Tip +GoonRock
  • Young And Beautiful – Lana Del Rey
  • Love Is The Drug – Bryan Ferry with The Bryan Ferry Orchestra
  • Over The Love – Florence + The Machine
  • Where The Wind Blows – Coco O. of Quadron
  • Crazy in Love – Emeli Sandé and The Bryan Ferry Orchestra
  • Together – The xx
  • Hearts A Mess – Gotye
  • Love Is Blindness – Jack White
  • Into the Past – Nero
  • Kill and Run – Sia

An orchestral version of Beyonce’s CIL and new Jay-Z? So. Down.

And the award goes to…

Seth Macfarlane, for Most Entertaining Oscars in a while.

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Whether you liked his jokes or not (about half of them were legitimately funny, the other half were your choice of cheesy, offensive, or inappropriate), it was entertaining. Watching Marky Mark try and interact with Ted onstage… not so much. Here’s a few best/worst moments from the show (including the really stupid, awful Lincoln joke at the beginning):

Read the Worst of the Bad Jokes here,
And read my live-tweeted recap of the awards here.

And ICYMI: The “Jaws” theme music was used to keep the speeches short, rather than the classic orchestral interlude that signals your speech’s end. At first, kind of funny. But honestly, I think it was more disrespectful than entertaining. They used the regular music for Tarantino’s speech, what makes him better than anyone else? (Besides Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, and all his Oscars). It just felt tacky to me. What did you think? Let me know @sydney_neilson on Twitter, and read this article discussing the subject here.

Ben Affleck, for Most Unbearably Precious Acceptance Speech. 

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Adele may have been predictably precious winning Best Song, and Anne Hathaway lived a dream come true with Best Supporting Actress, but Affleck’s barely-held-together finale speech (accepting the Oscar for Best Picture) was just beautiful. Watching him care so much… Argo is clearly his baby, he worked damn hard on it, and now he’s got the Oscar to prove it. “Work harder than you think you possibly can,” he said, using his speech as a bit of a pep talk for the future. Although, it wasn’t until he mentioned his wife and kids that he got really choked up. Argo is the fourth film in 85 years to snag Best Picture without a Best Director nod.

“I want to thank them and I want to thank what they taught me, which is that you have to work harder than you think you possibly can. You can’t hold grudges. It’s hard but you can’t hold grudges. And it doesn’t matter how you get knocked down in life because that’s going to happen. All that matters is you gotta get up. Violet, Sam and Sera, this is for you.”

Read Affleck’s full speech transcribed here.

Honorary Mention for “It came true!” from Anne Hathaway, and “You’re all amazing!” from Adele.

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Sandra Bullock, for this:

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Robert Downey Jr & Chris Evans (A TIE, HOW SCANDALOUS!) for Best Dressed Avenger.

They may have missed their shot at an Oscar this year, but they did not disappoint. Chris Evans looked sexy and classic, while Robert Downey Jr mixed it up a bit, and just generally looks more delicious than most people. Mark Ruffalo suited up, Jeremy Renner was polished as hell, and Samuel L. Jackson wore a velvet-y looking blazer that just reminded me how confused he makes me.

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Jennifer Lawrence, for Most Lovably Awkward, Fabulous, Entertaining Winner.

Seriously, J.Law can do NO wrong. She killed it in Silver Linings. She fell on her ass. She admitted to shots before the show (watch the press conference video below). She called out Emma Stone on the red carpet, “Your ass is mine, Stone!” She’s absolutely hilarious and real, and now she gets to continue taking over the world, as Academy Award Winner, Jennifer Lawrence, who fell on her way to the stage. The Oscars turn everyone with a Twitter account into a judgemental shitstorm, and I don’t think there’s been one negative word about this girl. The only thing better than watching her fall, is watching the boys react:

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YES.

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ALL HAIL THE PRINCESS OF GENOVIA AND KATNISS!

“I’m sorry, I did a shot before I…. I’m sorry, Jesus…”
DYING.

Quvenzhané Wallis, for Cutest, Youngest, whatever.

She just needs some kind of award. LOOK AT HER! Did you SEE Beasts of the Southern Wild? Plus, she was just cast as Annie, in a new big-screen Sony adaptation of the long running musical. Awesome.

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And check out Buzzfeed’s list of the 22 Most Adorable Quvenzhane Wallis Moments from the Oscars here.

Jane Fonda, for Best Aged Person Ever.

Yeah, Halle Berry looked amazing, but seriously. Jane Fonda is SEVENTY-FIVE years old. 75. She was born in 1937. She was alive during the actual Sound of Music plot line. She was born the same year that artificial sweetener was invented. And she’s been awesome every day since.

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Quentin Tarantino, for Being Fucking Awesome. Seriously, even if you hate Tarantino’s movies, he’s seriously awesome. He just does not give a fuck. His speech basically thanked himself (“And man, did I do it!”), but he did call 2013 “the writers’ year,” and he may just be right. Peace out!

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Possibly one of my favourite photos of all time.

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CHARLIZE.

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Kristen Stewart, for Worst Guest/Presenter/Person Ever.

She just looked so unhappy, so forced, and so disheveled. It’s the goddamn Academy Awards, people work their entire lives for this shit, and she can’t be bothered to brush her hair? I just don’t understand who forces her to go to these things… that can’t be the face of a voluntary attendee. The only person that could have possibly looked unhappier was Joaquin Phoenix.

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“We Saw Your Boobs,” for Best Original Performance.

As far as the songs written for the show, this was definitely the best. Clever and funny without being rude or offensive (the “Losers” song at the end, a little iffy…), the song called out all the audience members that have (or have not) stripped down on-camera. Total props to director of the night’s show, Don Mischer, for timing his shots perfectly, grabbing a great reaction from Jennifer Lawrence during the song:

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But the best line?

“And Kate Winslet in “Heavenly Creatures” and “Jude”
And “Hamlet” and “Titanic”
And “Iris” and “Little Children”
And “The Reader”
And whatever you’re shooting right now.
We saw your boobs!”

Leslie Mann and Judd Apatow, for Greatest Red Carpet Couple. I just feel like they’re the best.

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Although, the ridiculous attractiveness between Ketih Urban and Nicole Kidman is a little unbelievable.

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Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Daniel Radcliffe, for Most Adorable Dancing Pair. Yeah, Charlize Theron looked fucking incredible, and Channing Tatum danced her around the stage with his usually classy-as-fuck sexiness, but HARRY POTTER DANCED WITH JGL.

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Sally Field, for Being a Boss. She arrived with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and ditched the heels in minutes. She’s just so cute.

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& Ang Lee, for double fisting his Best Director Oscar and an In-N-Out Burger. Seriously.

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And for those that missed it, a quick recap of everything else:

THE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Within the first 30 seconds, we get to see Robert Downey Jr. Mmm.
  • The supremely well-timed Sound of Music joke. PERFECT!
  • Samuel L. Jackson’s badass velvet blazer
  • Daniel Day-Lewis is actually funny! And nothing makes an Oscar more satisfying than being awarded by Meryl Streep.
  • Somehow, every sound editor styled their hair the same. Silver linings in more ways than one.
  • Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy = hilarious, as expected
  • Paperman won!
  • Jamie Foxx wore a sparkly bowtie and Kerry Washington looked unbelieeeeeevable
  • Chicago moved back onto the stage, led by Catherine Zeta-Jones, and it was awesome.
  • A tie! I guess that’s a highlight. It confused a lot of people.
  • Lots of jewish jokes that were actually funny.
  • Richard Gere and Queen Latifah.
  • Jack Nicholson strolling out casually, closing the Oscars way, way later than necessary.
  • The Obamas prove, once again, that their family is the most unbelievably cool First Family on the planet. Can we keep them forever?

THE LOWLIGHTS:

  • Marky Mark and Ted. Just trying too hard.
  • The whole Captain Kirk thing. The future/past bit was good, using the headlines and such, but it just went on too long, and was a little too self-indulgent for me. Seemed like an excuse to throw in something Macfarlane-y, which just isn’t suited to the show.
  • Not enough Robert Downey Jr.
  • And why wasn’t Leonardo DiCaprio there, even a little bit?
  • The Onion tweeted during the show “”Everyone else seems afraid t say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a c—, right?” Seriously? She’s NINE years old. They deleted the tweet pretty quick, they’ve apologized and all that, but the internet never forgets. Read more here.
  • Renee Zellwegger.
  • I thought I escaped “I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” when we left the 00s… please, keep it there. It’s really incredible and I love JHud, don’t get me wrong, but damn, this song needs to go away for a decade or so.
  • 50 Years of Bond and we only get one performance and a montage? Shirley Bassey was badass, but I just expected more.

GOLD-FINGAAAAA!

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My overall verdict: 8.4/10.

Good host, solid audience, great films this year. Too offensive, inappropriate, and outlandish at times, but to be expected from MacFarlane. Theme = awesome. I need to see Django again. I love Naomi Watts. I love embellishments. I love montages. I love Bond. I love movies.

Read the full list of nominees and winners here.

Also, if you feel the need to watch the show again (the longest show since Hugh Jackman started the musical craze in 2009), you can watch the full thing, legally (if you live in the States), online, on the Oscars website, here.

Now, watch everyone be beautiful together:

Photos and GIFs courtesy of Tumblr & The Huffington Post.

Sunday, February 24th 2013.
6:45 pm, EST.
It begins.

And the #Oscar livetweets begin. #redcarpet

I just love Jennifer Lawrence. #dior #flawless

“Why can’t Tina and Amy host everything?” #questionoftheyear #oscars2013

The #Oscars have a theme. And it’s Music in Film. I think I just came. #oscars2013

I love seeing how short Daniel Radcliffe is. And I love seeing him dance. And I love JGL. And I love everything ever.

Paul Rudd improves everything.

I wonder how dramatically the viewer percentage is going to drop because of #thewalkingdead.

Life of Pi was absolutely incredible. Best use of 3D ever.

@IAMQUVENZHANE is the most precious thing ever. #welcometothegunshow

Using the Jaws music to get you off stage… A little funny, a little disrespectful… yeah, sounds like Seth Macfarlane’s show.

I’ve actually gotten all my #Oscar predictions right so far!

This Bond montage could go on forever I would not be mad about it #50YearsofBond

Kerry Washington’s cheekbones are inspiring. #oscars

If anyone deserves to win something from Zero Dark Thirty, it’s Jessica Chastain, not Kathryn Bigelow. #opinion #isaidit

Fun fact: Sugar Man was partly shot on an iPhone. Director ran out of money for Super8 film and used a vintage cam app. #oscars #random

SING TO ME TRAVOLTA. No, wait, don’t. #takemeback

CHICAGO TRIBUTE THIS IS REAL LIFE IT LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE THE FILM BUT IT’S ONSTAGE AGAIN BRB #OSCARS #allthatjazz

Cahterine Zeta-Jones is what everyone ever should aspire to be.

SHOW ME MORE BEHIND THE SCENES #controlroom #please

This is the #Oscars, Ted needs to leave. It’s not working, and it’s making me not like Marky Mark. #opinion #sadtweet

That Sound of Music joke just made up for Ted’s appearance, well done. #catchup #oscars

Unsurprising but totally satisfying. #OscarForAnne #LesMiserables

Am I the only person not excited for Adele? #bestwritingalready #leggo

I love looking forward to the GIFs of tomorrow. #modernhappiness #oscars

Jennifer Lawrence needs to win so we can watch her try and form an acceptance speech in front of this crowd. #loveher #bestactress

For every teenager wondering why they recognize the name Marvin Hamlisch.. Superbad. #lol #justsoyouknow #youlooklikeayoungmarvinhamlisch*

*Yeah, this isn’t right. That quote is from Role Models, I just got too excited and mixed it up. Whoops!

My undying hatred for Renee Zellwegger cannot stop my burning love of Chicago. #contradiction #oscars

Tarantino may have basically just thanked himself, but I’m totally cool with it. #DjangoUnchained #oscars2013 #thewritersyear

Guys, Jane Fonda is 75.

Ang Lee wins Best Director, and I get to chalk up another victory on my #Oscar poll! #LifeOfPi

YES YES YES MY LOVE*

*When Jennifer Lawrence won Best Actress.

NOTHING WILL EVER TOP THIS man i love Jennifer Lawrence way too much*

*When Jennifer Lawrence fell on the way to accept Best Actress.

Jennifer Lawrence is awk in a way that makes you want to be her best friend. K Stew is awk in a way that makes you want to murder-suicide.

The only thing better than winning an Oscar is winning an Oscar from Meryl Streep. #bestactor #oscars2013

When the Obamas are done with politics, can they have their own TV show? I just love their family. #idwatchthat #keepingupwiththeobamas

Argo fuck yourself ❤ #bestpicture #OSCARS

Django: Unchained

poster1 What You Know: Jamie Foxx and Leo DiCap star in Tarantino’s maybe-racist bloody Western, of some sort. It’s on a lot of billboards, looks pretty badass.
What You’ve Heard: It’s pretty badass. Lots of blood.
What You Need to Know: Yeah, it’s pretty badass. Blood and badassery in the way that only Tarantino can, and for over two and a half hours. The soundtrack is full of surprises, and totally awesome. Every song punched you in the face, with Rick Ross, John Legend, and other artists making appearances at perfect moments. Bomb soundtrack aside, Django is not for the faint of heart. Violence has always been a trademark of Tarantino, and Django is no exception. I’m not usually a squirmy person; I can handle blood and gore, modern desensitization and all that… but damn, Django, you violent. Man vs man, dog vs man, man vs woman, guns and knives and teeth and nails, Tarantino holds nothing back. Samuel L. Jackson doesn’t either – he may look like an ancient desert turtle, but his vocal chords are still kicking. If you’ve heard about “that awesome German guy,” that would be Christoph Waltz, one of the absolute best performances in the movie. Leonardo DiCaprio is a strange breath of calm in the film, as the sadistic plantation owner of “Candyland.”

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If you’re still not sold, watch the movie knowing that eventually, randomly, when you least expect it…

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Watch the trailer here:

And a little taste of the soundtrack, two of my favourite tracks:

Zero Dark Thirty

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What You Know: Bin Laden on the big screen?
What You’ve Heard: It’s ….long.
What You Need to Know: It’s one of those movies you go into like “THIS IS GONNA BE AWESOME and informative!” Then you get there, the movie starts, and yeah, it’s kind of awesome, you get a look behind the scenes of all the Bin Laden efforts, the U.S. military, it’s all pretty cool. But it’s not two hours and 45 minutes cool. It drags. It lags. It lasted too long. I actually expected more, but it was still a good movie. Definitely worth seeing to make your own call. Jessica Chastain is awesome though, I feel like that’s pretty indisputable, whether the movie flowed as a whole or not. However, Kathryn Bigelow (the film’s director) upset the Oscars in 2009 with The Hurt Locker‘s win, beating Avatar, and it seems possible again. Girl power!

Lincoln

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What You Know: The poster is grey. Kind of looks like Saw if you’re not paying attention.
What You’ve Heard: Nothing too exciting.
What You Need to Know: Now, as someone who knows little but the basics about American history, I went into Lincoln knowing very little backstory. It’s interesting to see, especially because Lincoln isn’t a President that got to experience a legitimate media frenzy, so the public isn’t as familiar with Lincoln as a character, a husband, a father. I definitely had to make myself watch this one: 147 minutes of a lethargic-looking film about a President isn’t usually my first choice. However, it’s very different than I expected. Daniel Day-Lewis’ portrayal of Abraham Lincoln is smooth, subtle, and uniform, but cleverly investing. In the film, Lincoln’s goal is to abolish slavery, and he must find the votes from Congress to pass the amendment. But it’s a balancing act: if the law is passed before the civil war is over, the returning Southern states will not pass the law. But obviously, peace would save lives, so he wants the war to end. So Daniel Day-Lewis spends the majority of the movie having snappy, sassy conversations with other old, similarly-bearded politicians in dismal offices, telling them clever stories and tales to convince them to vote to pass the amendment. It’s definitely justified in its award nominations – directing and film structure, amazing. It’s a damn well made film (thanks, Spielberg), but it’s definitely a bit of a snooze. A well-crafted, soon-to-be-Oscar-winning-snooze. A classy nap. A long, classy nap.

Silver Linings Playbook

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What You Know: Bradley Cooper, Hunger Games girl, lots of nominations.
What You’ve Heard: Pretty positive reviews, funny, worth it.
What You Need to Know is all right here. It’s a great book turned into a pretty great movie, with an amazing cast and writers and everything is just great. Granted, romantic dramedys don’t usually fare well as contender’s for Best Picture, but there’s just something about Silver Linings. Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper both hold nominations for Best Actor/Actress as well, in addition to Russell’s directorial nomination and Robert De Niro and Jackie Weaver’s supporting actor/actress noms, so my hopes are high, and I just can’t wait for all that beautiful to be sitting together at one table.

Amour

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What You Know: …I got nothing.
What You’ve Heard: … nope.
What You Need to Know: A French film about death and old age (you’re still reading? Thanks!), it’s impressive that a film nominated for Best Foreign Language film made it to the big leagues for Best Picture. Also, the film’s lead actress snagged a Best Actress nom, making her the oldest ever in the category (at a solid 85 years). With the youngest nominee ever at 9 years old, the battle of the ages will be interesting.

Life of Pi

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What You Know: It was a book, right? And there’s a tiger, and a foreign kid on a boat.
What You’ve Heard: It’s been compared to Avatar, so that’s something.
What You Need to Know: Two words: earth porn. For an adaptation of a book deemed “unfilmable,” it was pretty fucking awesome. Avatar is long and intense and exotic and and cool, but man, Life of Pi is beautiful. Like, sitting-in-the-theatre-jaw-dropped-wide-eyes for a little over two hours (which I just had to Google, because when I saw it in theatres, I didn’t notice or care about how long it was). All the reviews and hype about the film has cited it as this epic, groundbreaking, exhilarating, incredible, unexpected masterpiece, and honestly, it is. The 3D is used entirely to enhance your experience with the film, not throw cheap gags in your face just to make you flinch.

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The characters in the film (mostly animal) are entertaining as hell, as they all develop personality and grow along with Pi. It’s a serious movie you don’t have to feel inappropriate laughing at; it’s funny, too! With clever little lines and hilarious moments (the evolution of Pi’s name, for one), you don’t get bored, and the captivating scenery and unbelievable cinematography never let you down. All in all, it’s an amazing film that entertains the eyes while lifting your spirits. I can’t help comparing it to a blend of Avatar’s exotic beauty, the spirit of Finding Nemo (just keep swimming!), and the animalistic sense of serenity reminiscent of Water For Elephants. But comparing Life of Pi to anything doesn’t do it justice. It’s really like nothing I’ve seen before, and it’s something you should definitely catch in theatres before it’s gone – I’m definitely not one to recommend 3D, but I’m doing it now. The preview doesn’t even do it justice, but enjoy:

Les Misérables

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What You Know: Musical! Singing. Wolverine singing. And… Anne Hathaway’s haircut
What You’ve Heard: Apparently it’s a big deal. Epic and such.
What You Need to Know: I saw Les Mis in one of the Cineplex VIP Cinemas that you’re allowed to drink in. Sure, my drink was a little pricey, but I used my Scene points to buy the ticket, and having a delicious egg nog cradled in my lap made sobbing through “I Dreamed a Dream” a little more emotionally bearable. I knew Hugh Jackman could sing, we’ve all seen him start the singing trend at the Oscars a few years back, and I personally think the video of Jackman calling out an audience member for cell phone use during his Broadway show is one of the funniest things ever (if you haven’t seen it, find it below under the preview). Jackman was solid, Anne Hathway impressed, but I just don’t know what to do with Russell Crowe. I don’t even think he was bad, I just don’t know what to do with it. Again, the movie was a little longer than it needed to be, but considering how long the play is, the film had to be pretty long to not piss off 28 years of theatre fans. It’s a sung-through musical, so the whole movie is sung, without a word spoken. Considering I didn’t realize this until AFTER I left the theatre, I don’t think it’s that big of a change from a regular musical, but if you’re not a fan of musicals, Les Mis might be a bit of a stretch (especially getting used to Wolverine as Jean Valjean). However, Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham-Carter’s onscreen rendition of “Master of the House” is exhaustingly entertaining, and Eddie Redmayne is a delicious little surprise, and definitely grows on you.

Also check out some hilarious Les Mis memes here.

Argo

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What You Know: Ben Affleck. Politics?
What You’ve Heard: Won some stuff, sounds pretty good.
What You Need to Know: It’s like watching everyone you ever thought was awesome… be awesome. And it’s based on actual (now-declassified) events. Ben Affleck teams up with Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and the foul-mouthed grandfather from Little Miss Sunshine (Alan Arkin) to come together and execute a plan to save six Americans who were taken from the U.S. Embassy in 1980 Iran. If seeing Walter White with hair and no moustache isn’t enough to invest you in the film, its sharp, sassy attitude will sell you. It’s Ben Affleck all the way, smart and biting without being torturously boring. With Victor Garber (Callahan from Legally Blonde) as the Canadian ambassador, and Tate Donovan as one of the escapees, every role is cast to perfection (maybe why it won the SAG Award for Best Ensemble?). The story is awesome, a political thriller with a hint of documentary: the escapees have to pose as a film crew and attempt to cross the border without getting caught. It’s an awesome story of countries and governments working together, and it’s especially awesome because Canada comes out on top (even if the film downplays our involvement/glorifies the Americans, there is a true story behind the Affleck movie, and it’s cool as hell). #winnawinnamaplesyrup

Beasts of the Southern Wild

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What You Know: Nothing.
What You’ve Heard: Nothing. Wait, is this where the little girl nominated comes from?
What You Need to Know: AHH. The little girl is so cute and so clever. The movie is a beautiful, cultural, entertaining, SUCCINCT piece of film. It doesn’t drag on longer than necessary, boasting a modest 91 minute runtime. I feel like every movie I’ve seen lately has lasted about 40 minutes longer than usual, and even the good ones take a lot out of you. BOTSW was just long enough, 91 minutes of pure heart. Both leads (the young girl, Hushpuppy, and her father, Wink) had no previous acting experience, and brought sincerity and realism to the roles. Quvenzhané Wallis, the young girl, impressed the casting agents with her lungs: burping on command, and an impressive scream. Dwight Henry, who plays her father in the film, was a modest bakery/cafe owner in New Orleans at the time of casting. The tight-knit crew had built a relationship with him over time, and finally got him to read for the part. He couldn’t resist, after realizing the realism he could bring to the role (Wink’s issues in the film stem from natural disaster, which Henry experienced firsthand in Hurricane Katrina), and was cast immediately. And damn. The whole film is fuelled by imagination and emotion, and narrated by young Hushpuppy, giving it a sense of innocence and naivety. She threatens her father with “eating birthday cake all over [his] grave,” and discusses “the universe getting busted.” Her story is an inspiration, and this is definitely a film you won’t soon forget. Also, the only nominee to come out before October! Released in October, this little girl’s big movie stuck.

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Don’t usually watch award shows? This year, the Oscars are hosted by Seth Macfarlane (creator and voice actor for Family Guy, Ted, etc), so you know that at the very least, you’ll be entertained by his opening monologue. Especially considering his past with hosting: “How do you prepare for a night like this? Personally, I smoked a lot of pot and don’t give a shit about this show. So I’m kind of a perfect host for this show, or for the Oscars” (quoted from his opening monologue at the Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump). So, I’m excited. Plus, look how adorable he is:

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“Fun” fact: Macfarlane had a ticket to be on one of the planes that crashed in the 9/11 tragedy. Missed his plane by 10 minutes. Hangovers, not always a bad thing.

Other things to look forward to at this year’s show:

  • James Bond tribute, for the franchise’s 50th Anniversary
  • 85th anniversary of the Oscars themselves
  • Mila Kunis (always)
  • Whatever Angelina’s wearing (another leg meme in the works?)
  • Bradley Cooper (mmmmm..)
  • Will Best Actress go to the adorable 9-year-old, the powerful 85-year-old, 22-year-old J.Law, gritty Chastain, or Naomi Watts (for The Impossible)?
  • Anne Hathway (she’s a frontrunner to win for Supporting Actress, and her speeches are always entertaining. She’s just so cute, especially with her latest haircut.)
  • Red carpet preshows (just have it on in the background and absorb some fashion. Enjoy the beautiful people looking even more beautiful than usual. Or, more entertainingly, the beautiful people looking ridiculous). #OSCARs2013
  • Seth Macfarlane is set to close the show with Kristen Chenoweth and a musical number. Awesome.

The Oscars air at 8pm on ABC, Sunday February 24th. Red carpet and pre-shows air basically all day beforehand, flick on your TV and find it for yourself.

Follow Seth Macfarlane on Twitter here.
Follow the Academy for Oscar updates on Twitter here.
Follow me on Twitter here.

My favourite Harry Potter-themed videos in one post.
Three categories: the funny, the musical, and the simply precious, cute, and nostalgic.

FUNNY:

One of my absolute favourites: Harry Potter – Abridged.

The cast “speaking American.”

What if their spells didn’t go as planned? Also, what if they were cartoons?

MUSICAL:

One of my absolute favourites: Harry Potter in 99 Seconds.

Harry Potter 7, the trailer “literal-ized” and put to music.

PRECIOUS:

Compliation of all 8 trailers. The most nostalgic 17 minutes and 54 seconds of your life. Remember when they still came out in theatres? Brb tears.

Fun on set! They’re all just so cute I don’t know what to do with myself.

Compilation of all the movies, just enjoy.

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