*~*~THE OSCARS~*~*

I couldn’t sleep last night because I was puzzling over not, as you might imagine, my lack of employment, but a more pressing matter: my picks for the Oscars. No, I’m not a member of the Academy. But I am very self-important.

Last year it was easy because of Moonlight (although, admittedly, it’s not hard to choose “anything but Darkest Hour”), but this year the Oscars are graced with such beautiful filmmaking that I want everyone to win.

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Also, there were hella snubs, which I’ll get to shortly.

I have watched all the nominees with the exception of the following (I ran out of time and/or didn’t care enough):
Roman J. Israel, Esq.
All the Money in the World
Molly’s Game
Baby Driver
Victoria & Abdul
Wonder
Marshall
The Greatest Showman
Star Wars: the Last Jedi (I know)
Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2
Kong: Skull Island (yes, this was nominated for an Oscar. So was Suicide Squad, which won, and which was The Worst Movie Anyone Saw In 2016)
War for the Planet of the Apes
Documentary Shorts

I’m sorry to say that this means I did, indeed, see The Boss Baby.

If you want to skip the rest of the post, here are my must-see movies of this year, with a star if they are especially must-see:
*Call Me By Your Name
*Get Out
*Lady Bird
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
*The Florida Project
Mudbound
The Breadwinner
Coco
Icarus
*Last Men in Aleppo
Strong Island
*A Fantastic Woman
*BPM (NOT FUCKING NOMINATED)
*”DeKalb Elementary” (short)
*”Watu Wote” (short)

And, just to show how self-important I am, I’m going to start from the end just like the Oscars do.

Actress in a Supporting Role
It is so fucked up that Moonee from The Florida Project wasn’t nominated because she was so spectacular, and Mary J. Blige wasn’t that good (sorry, but she wasn’t). I know Allison Janney is going to win, but she really shouldn’t – it’s nearly impossible to choose between Lesley Manville and Laurie Metcalf, but in the end I choose Laurie Metcalf from Lady Bird from her performance in the car at the end.

Actor in a Supporting Role
Obviously Armie was snubbed – I could already see his potential when he was a featured extra in Arrested Development:
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So was, of course, Michael Stuhlbarg. I’m glad The Florida Project was nominated for something, though. I didn’t watch All the Money in the World but this is definitely between Sam Rockwell and Willem Dafoe in my opinion. I personally loved Three Billboards – I know a lot of people didn’t like it, and maybe it’s my lack of discernment and obtuse taste, but I thought it was insightful, cutting, forgiving, funny, tragic, and enjoyable. I was captured by Sam Rockwell‘s performance – to me, he earns the win.

Visual Effects
Blade Runner 2049 (mostly because it was the only one I saw – but why isn’t The Shape of Water in here?) Also, this:
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Sound Mixing
Let the Right One In, because it should win every year (I mean Dunkirk, sorry)

Sound Editing
Also Let the Right One In

Short Film (Live Action)
DeKalb Elementary” (extremely difficult choice because “Watu Wote” and The Silent Child” were both so beautifully made, but it ends up being “DeKalb Elementary” because of how simply it was able to depict an incredibly diverse set of themes, Fuck it I’m making this a paragraph)
“DeKalb Elementary” is creepily timely, and yet timeless, because to me, the central narrative is the fragility of white men and the necessity for black women to be our society’s caretakers, protectors, handlers, empathizers. It speaks to the power of empathy, but also the politics of empathy: who receives empathy and who is forced to give it; how can empathy be used as a tool to save lives on a micro and macro level; how humanity is just as important as (arguably more important than) strength and fortitude to manage aggressors. It touches on much more, and like so many of the films this year, holds so many conflicting themes in its hand.

Short Film (Animated)
Several of the animated films this year had what some might call “adult” themes, but to me, children are quite adept at understanding complicated themes. If we taught children that life is complicated (what up Miyazaki?) then they’d probably be better at life.
Anyway, “Negative Space” was delightful, melancholy, funny, and quite dark. But, with the exception of “Dear Basketball,” which was relatively bite-size and trite, the films were all creative, delightful, and multifaceted.

Production Design
Not fucking Beauty and the Beast! That movie was a shining example of how throwing millions of dollars at a something doesn’t make it good, and in fact, can remove all the ingenuity and creativity that having less money creates. It’s insulting that this film was in this category, because it’s so hard to choose between Blade Runner 2049Dunkirk, and The Shape of Water. But in the end I choose Blade Runner 2049 because it required the most imagination and bloomed because of it.

Music (Original Song)
If “Mystery of Love” from Call me By Your Name doesn’t win I’m going to throw a fucking fit. That said, “Remember Me” from Coco was pretty fabulous.

Music (Original Score)
I did a total 180 on this one by listening to the music without the film, which I didn’t like very much – Phantom Thread. However, Call Me By Your Name was snubbed AF.

Makeup and Hairstyling
The only one of these I’ve watched is Darkest Hour, but Gary Oldman is hot and Winston Churchill was not, so I choose that one.

Foreign Language Film
To me, this is where the worst snub happened, because BPM was one of the most arresting films I saw this year, and better than all five of these movies, and it wasn’t even nominated. That being said, all of these movies were masterful and so interesting, but A Fantastic Woman floats well above the rest. I really wish that foreign films had more categories at the Oscars.

Film Editing
Dunkirk

Documentary (Short Subject)
I didn’t get to see these because they show them as two different programs and I just didn’t have time to go see them twice. It’s such a shame because they’re always incredible.

Documentary (Feature)
All five of these blew me away, but Last Men in Aleppo shattered me. Watching a film like this can make the struggles in films like Lady Bird and Call Me By Your Name seem insultingly trivial by comparison, but the paradox this film exemplifies is that even with a backdrop of extraordinary suffering and imminent death, the minutia is what begins to matter most. In the quiet moments between the daily crises of pulling severed limbs and traumatized children from rubble, the White Helmets decide to make themselves a little fish pond with a cascading fountain to enjoy in their center, giggling as one pokes the other in the behind with a drill bit as he’s bent over the pond. It would be so easy to make a movie like this a total slog, like many films about suffering, but the thing about good documentaries and their relatively candid capture of reality is that they grasp that even in extreme situations there are always moments of humor and levity and joy because that is how humans survive.

Costume Design
Didn’t see Victoria & Abdul, but I think Phantom Thread earns it because the narrative and mood were so entwined with the costumes.

Cinematography
Ugh, why do I have to choose? I think I tend to gravitate towards sci-fi elements, because my first instinct is Blade Runner 2049. I’m sticking with it because of how integral it was to the story, but also because I don’t have the best eye and don’t feel like I can choose.

Animated Feature Film
Feature animated films as a whole this year were disappointing compared with the shorts, given the nomination of fucking The Boss Baby, but Coco truly was delightful, funny, and even educational. And, in classic Pixar fashion, tear-inducing. However, The Breadwinner is a close runner-up.

Writing (Original Screenplay)
Lady Bird (Get Out and The Big Sick are quite close, but in the end I think the directing is better in Get Out and the writing is better in Lady Bird).

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Mudbound (so hard to choose this over Call Me By Your Name, but I think the writing elevated Mudbound while the acting elevated Call Me By Your Name).

Directing
This is where it starts to get really hard, especially because of the SNUBS (Best director was Luca Guadagnino for Call Me By Your Name), but of these the obvious forerunner to me is Jordan Peele for Get Out. But I can’t think too hard about it because I also think The Florida Project and Three Billboards should be here, and Dunkirk was also beautifully directed.

Actress in a Leading Role
I loved all of these performances (including Meryl Streep, who elevated a pretty conventional character and plot to something quite inspiring – what can I say? She does the damn job, every time), but to me it’s between Sally Hawkins and Frances McDormand. In the end, despite Sally Hawkins killing it, I think Frances McDormand earns it. Why can’t they all win??

Actor in a Leading Role
Are you seriously going to make me choose between Timothée Chalamet and Daniel Kaluuya? In the same category as fucking Daniel Day-Lewis, Gary Oldman, and Denzel Washington, who are all regarded as masters in their field? It is between the two of them, as far as I’m concerned (although I didn’t see Roman J. Israel, but I feel like Denzel just gets nominated every time he has a movie, like Meryl Streep). It’s Timothée Chalamet by the teeniest, tiniest hair (probably because of the nature of that film having more actor-driven scenes), although I’ll probably change my mind to Daniel Kaluuya by the end of the day because of the hypnosis scene.

Best Picture
This year was so damn good for movies. I think what I love the most about movies (and I think this tends to be a little more evident in foreign films) is their ability to gather so many elements (both figurative and literal) and present them together. This is one of the reasons I loved almost all of these nominees, and why I tend to love films like them: human beings are blessed and cursed with contradictions and complexities, and we experience these things simultaneously.  In a more literal sense, they take writing, visual storytelling, acting and all of these human elements and make them so much greater than the sum of their parts. Ugh, I’m just waxing poetic at this point, but the idea is that it was so hard to choose from all these films, and by the way, The Florida Project should have been nominated.
My choice is Call Me By Your NameI loved it so much that I’m afraid to see it again – watching the trailer makes my teeth hurt like too much cupcake frosting. But can I also choose Get Out and Lady Bird?
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I haven’t even gotten to the implications of #MeToo or #TimesUp or the fall of Harvey Weinsten – in fact, this post is surprisingly bereft of politics, but it’s mostly because other people have done such a better job than I will be able to at writing about that stuff. Here’s one!

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Metrograph Commissary, aka Hell

Alright, I’m about to get all suburban mom on y’all and I apologize in advance. I know I have the privilege, as a relatively average-looking white person, to be treated generally well when I enter customer service situations. But I also worked in service for seven years, including in fine dining. I know how to treat customers, even complete pieces of shit that make you wish voo doo worked. And, more importantly, I know how to treat people in service, and I know the necessity of giving them the benefit of the doubt because they may have just dealt with one of the aforementioned pieces of shit.

But litro, FUCK NEW YORK. Bae and I went to see the documentary Kedi, which, by the way, was cute as hell. I smiled so much during the film, which follows the street cats of Istanbul (like, are you kidding), that my cheeks were sore. The juxtaposition of the experience we had in the theater and the experience we had in the adjoining restaurant – oh sorry, commissary – was so stark that it was funnier than it was infuriating. But only by a little. So I was infuriated.

We made a reservation for 8:30, and the hostess gave us attitude right away. Bae and I were both like, okay, maybe it’s been a rough day for this rude-ass human. But then, we were led to the bar to wait for our table and almost smacked into George Michael Bluth. First sign the night was about to descend into a banana stand on fire.

We were seated after fifteen minutes, despite being right on time for our reservation, and despite the excruciatingly unhurried pace at which all of the staff were walking around the only partially occupied restaurant. Once she told us our table was ready and apologized with as much sincerity as Donald Trump saying, “There’s nobody that has more respect for women than I do,” Bae good-naturely responded with “No worries, it happens.”

She literally responded with “What happens?” Like, did you just start this job within the last hour? Also, are you an actual toddler?

Once she sat us, we remained at our table without menus or water for more than fifteen minutes. We glanced around at the waitstaff, floating about like blackflies inching towards death, but we were aggressively ignored by all. Finally I sheepishly (but overtly) waved at the hard-hearted harpy robot that was the hostess, and she lit-er-al-ly smiled right at me and kept walking only to lean on the hostess stand like a deflating bounce house.

We ended up leaving passive aggressively without looking at or speaking to her and proceeding to New York’s finest dining establishment, Shanghai Cafe Deluxe.

Anyway, protip: don’t eat at a restaurant that calls itself a fucking commissary or everyone will treat you like shit, unless you’re George Michael Bluth.

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Knitting, or the moral implications of lauding Manchester by the Sea

Yesterday on the train I was knitting a scarf, like ya do, and this woman sitting across from me confirmed a hypothesis I’ve been considering for the past year or so – “I like watching your knitting – it’s therapeutic.”

I thought so! I love knitting on the train because I find people’s eyes affixed, hypnotized, at the yarn moving steadily. It’s a genuine connection from others that lacks the creepiness of random staring. Plus, it’s therapeutic for me, too!

Thank fake Jesus because I need it. I saw, and was blown away by, Manchester by the Sea last weekend, and subsequently found out that Casey Affleck is a sexual predator and no one gives a shit – in fact, he’s slated to win the Oscar for best actor. Meanwhile, Nate Parker (who is also a sexual predator, by the way. Not excusing any of these garbage trucks) was dragged through the mud and lost all Oscar prospects when his sexual predation was pulled into the spotlight.

This certainly exhibits something about white privilege – a Brock Turner vs. Cory Batey situation, a situation that’s been playing out since the dawn of this fucking country. But it says something more about male privilege in general – and our (us being the public, and especially the female public) literal inability to trust any man in power. Nate Parker still has a fucking career, and his victim killed herself. Chris Brown. Bill Cosby. Woody Allen. The list is straight up endless, and y’all don’t need me to tell you. It hurts when you admire the art of a man who betrays you and shows what power did to his impulses; meanwhile,  the cognitive dissonance of masterful artists like Roman Polanski or David Bowie and their already well-known affinity for predatory actions, forces women to decide between enjoying art and acting in their own self-interest. Even my most woke male ally friends don’t seem to have this internal struggle.

A rock and a hard place, AKA oppression at its core. So fun!

As a little consolation prize for everything being so fucked up, enjoy these Google images of “friends knitting”:

people-knitting

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girlsknit

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Fabio & Me

Did y’all know that one time Fabio rode a roller coaster and got hit in the face by a goose?

Sometimes I feel just like Fabio on that fateful day. I’ve come to the understanding that my life is roller-coaster-esque – I celebrate the ups with as much zeal as possible while bracing myself for the lows with a firm grip – and then a fucking goose hits me in the face. I didn’t factor in the goose when my ass first trembled in the roller coaster’s cold, plastic seat. I didn’t factor in the goose when the pock-faced boy in the throes of awkward adolescence pressed the protective bar a little too snugly into my fat rolls. And I certainly didn’t factor in the goose when my goddamned nose was smashed by a goddamned goose.

By the way, here is the entry in Wikipedia for this momentous occasion:
“On March 30, 1999, a goose hit Fabio and died when he was on a roller coaster at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, located in James County, Virginia. Fabio rode in the first car of Apollo’s Chariot, a roller coaster, during its inaugural ride. During the rapid descent on the 210-foot drop after the lift hill, a goose collided with Fabio, leaving his nose covered in blood. Fabio received a one-inch cut but no one else on the roller coaster was hurt. He was later treated at a local hospital for the cut. That same year, he started his website.”

The world is so full of magic.

I guess all I need to do this year in order to merit a Wikipedia entry is start my website – I think I can do that.