What to Expect at the Academy Awards

There’s a joke that there are two seasons in Los Angeles: Pilot and Awards. And the past three months have been a constant fete for Hollywood’s biggest stars with everything from the Golden Globe Awards, to the Critics Choice Awards (and every city’s critics choice awards), to the Makeup and Hairstylists Guild Awards and it all culminates this Sunday with the big kahuna – the Academy Awards.

Preparations are already well underway for the big day, and I know this because I pass through the intersection of Hollywood and Highland to get to work and the traffic has already been building up since last week. I’m not complaining (but I am). Here’s a photo I took while impatiently waiting at the red light. At least Ellen’s face was looking down at me. That white tent at the bottom is the beginning of the red carpet, which is pretty cool. I swear I’m not jaded about living in LA.

Photo Feb 25, 11 47 09 PM

So while the organizers are getting ready on the ground, we can get ready  ourselves for the night by prepping via the internet, as you do. Here are some things to look out for come Sunday during the like, 10 hours of programming that will be on your television all day.

Jennifer Lawrence looking like a flawless human being

jlaw cf prem

One thing I can always count on when talking about Jennifer Lawrence is that 99% of the time someone says they want to be her best friend. We all know how much you want to be J Law’s BFF. We ALLLLL want to be J Law’s BFF. But another thing I can always count on is Jennifer’s impeccable style, namely her red carpet looks. And we have Dior to thank for that. She’s been the face of the French fashion house for years, and just a few days ago, they released these new ads with Jen looking stunning as always. So what will she wear this year? Hopefully something easy to walk in…

I have the printed out and at my desk at work…

Lupita Nyong’o looking like a flawless human being

The one person who has a chance to keep Jennifer in her seat Sunday night is this ethereal human being. In case you didn’t know, Lupita is the breakout star from 12 Years a Slave (can you believe this is the first movie she’s EVER made?!). And throughout awards season, she’s proven that she belongs on the Hollywood A-list. I mean when she showed up to the Golden Globes in that Ralph Lauren red cape ensemble … CAN YOU EVEN? I mean we couldn’t, because both Molly and I named her our fave Best Dressed this year. She is the one person I am most looking forward to seeing come out of the limo and onto the red carpet on Sunday. And not to mention, she’s in the running to becoming the world’s most wanted BFF in 2014. I’m just saying J Law is probs gonna take a long vacay and we need someone to fill in…

Ellen Getting Away With Jokes About Celebrities

Ellen is back for her second time hosting, y’all! And it’s quite a contrast to last year’s host. Yeah, I’ll let you think about that for a second, because who remembers who hosted the Oscars last year? No? Nothing? It was this guy:

The thing about Ellen that very few celebrities have is overall likability. Neil Patrick Harris has it. Meryl Streep has it. Tom Hanks has it. These are all people that are more likely to elicit an ‘I LOVE them’ than an ‘UGH. The WORST’ from the general public. It also helps that Ellen has a daytime TV show that people love being on and have an overall positive reaction to. The A-listers sitting in the audience have all been on her show so they already have a good rapport with her. Aka, she can get away with a lot more than someone like Seth MacFarlane ever could. Case in point, the last time she hosted in 2007, she vacuumed the carpet underneath Queen Meryl‘s feet. And made Steven Spielberg take a pic of her and Clint Eastwood for MYSPACE. No one thought this was weird. Seven years later, I’m assuming she’s more comfortable in front of an audience like the one at the Oscars, so it’s going to be even bigger and better.

Dancing. A lot of Dancing.

When you think Ellen DeGeneres, a few things may come to mind: funny, talk show, lesbian, dancing. The woman dances every day on her show, so obviously she’s going to do it for the Oscars, right? I mean she already teased it in the trailer, so one can only hope she shows off her skills during the main show. Or at least has people do it for her. In this trailer, there are a number of So You Think You Can Dance alumni, so I’m hoping there will be a bunch on stage too. Also, I’m a loyal SYTYCD fan, so if they are there on Sunday, expect me to fangirl over them during the live blog.

Mini-Grammys/Tonys

Like most years, the Best Original Song nominees all take the stage to perform their nominated songs. This year is no different. All four nominees, U2 (Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom), Pharrell (Despicable Me 2), Karen O (Her) and Idina Menzel (Frozen) will be on hand to sing their respective songs, but I feel like it’s just more star-studded this year than usual. Plus Bette Middler AND Pink are performing, so expect some kind of aerial/scarf hanging down from ceiling type situation. Pink, not Bette. Although that would be amahzing. My guess is they’ll help out with the In Memoriam?

The Height of the McConaissance

Alright Alright Alright (expect him to say that and for everyone else to say it too). Matthew McConaughey has spent the past few years picking roles that isn’t just the lead that leans. He’s been ‘shedding’ his image from being a rom-com hero to a serious actor, and that’s how we got to Dallas Buyers Club. Folks have been calling this second phase of his life the ‘McConaissance’ and since he’s been winning almost all the awards he’s been up for as the HIV positive drug pusher,  all signs point to Oscar on Sunday – hence the apex of his reinvention. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

It could be Leo’s year and these memes will be irrelevant

Hey, remember all these memes about Leo not winning an Oscar all these years:

His role in The Wolf of Wall Street has been garnering juuusttt enough critical acclaim and awards this season that his odds to win a golden guy are better than ever. But let’s not jinx it. All I’ll say is if he DOES win, he better retroactively thank Kate Winslet in Titanic and announce his undying love for her.

Gravity vs. 12 Years a Slave

12 Years a Slave Gravity no edit

It’s a showdown between Sandra Bullock floating in space for two hours and the guy from Love Actually escaping from slavery all because Taran Killam duped him. Each movie has 10 nominations, including Best Picture. If we’re looking at the statistics (which we are because I’m a nerd and love stats), Gravity has won 130 out of the 229 noms it has received this awards season, while 12 Years a Slave has pretty much double that with 208 wins and  409 nominations. A couple weeks ago, the BAFTAs (the British Oscars) named Gravity the Best British Film while 12 Years won Best Film. The thing to note about this is that for the past 5 years, every movie that has won the BAFTA for Best Film has gone on to win the Oscar in the same category. Basically what I’m trying to say is 12 Years a Slave is going to win. Based on the facts above and my gut. Just call me Olivia Pope.

Now that you’re prepped for the Oscars, we’ll see you back here on Sunday for our Live Blog (and big redesign day)!!!!

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2014 Best Picture Nominees: Highs and Lows

Every year, I set out to watch every Best Picture nominee. And every year, I have regrets. Sometimes my regret is that I didn’t make it to all of the movies, and sometimes it’s that I did. But the good thing about seeing (almost) all of the Best Picture nominees is that I’m now an informed blogger – and can let you know the pros and cons of (most) of this years nominated films!

12 Years A Slave

High:

Not to belabor the whole Lupita Nyong’o thing … but maybe you should all get ready to hear a lot about Lupita Nyong’o from the both of us. Her performance as the unfortunate Patsy will absolutely crush you. The audience has Solomon Northrup as a sort of guide throughout the movie – like Alice in Wonderland or Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, he’s somebody from “our” world (insofar as he wasn’t born in slavery and had never witnessed it firsthand). Patsy shows Northrup, and us, what it’s like when slavery is all you’ve ever known and you can’t imagine that you’ll get to leave it.

Let’s not forget about the bone-chilling performance by one of our other dream BFFs, Sarah Paulson, either. Chiwetel Ejiofor, too. Okay, everyone. The high point of this movie is everyone.

Low:

It’s not a reason not to see the movie – in fact, it’s why you should see it – but this really happened. We use this shortened narrative of “there was slavery, it was very bad, and then Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves” so often, it’s hard to think about all of the people that lived and died with no chance of freedom. Just go see it, okay?

You’ll feel a bit better after looking at IRL photos of the cast. See? Everyone’s OK now.

American Hustle

High:

The Academy loves a good anti-hero, and this film is full of them. You will end up thinking that just about every main character is awful by the end of the movie … but you’ll also be thinking “man, I hope these awful people succeed!”

Low:

When you leave the movie, between the comb-overs, double-dealing, and all-around 1970s sleaziness, you’ll feel like you have a fine layer of disco grime covering your skin.

You can almost smell the patchouli.

Captain Phillips

High:

Tom Hanks playing a smart, sensible guy who’s in near-peril (but it’s not Saving Private Ryan)? Using his cool wits to solve a near-impossible dilemma (but it’s not The Da Vinci Code)? And he’s at least temporarily stranded in the ocean (Cast Away)? Hey, why mess with what we already know works.

Low:

Some action sequences that were probably riveting in the theater had me reaching for my iPad or a magazine when watching it On Demand.

Dallas Buyers Club

High:

Jared Leto, Jordan Catalano of my heart, owner of the loveliest ombre tresses, was brilliant. Rayon is funny, spirited, and kind – just like real people when they get sick, AIDs didn’t become her only character trait. You can see the personality that Rayon would have whether or not she was ill –  not just the HIV-positive, trans-woman version of a Lurlene McDaniel character.

Low:

Matthew McConaughey’s weight – low in the literal sense, anyway. While necessary to show that the protagonist was running his scheme as a very ill man, I just wanted to give him a hug and an Ensure. He was truly distressing to look at. But the Academy does loooove extreme weight loss or gain.

Why yes, this WAS a shameless way to insert a photo of shirtless “before” McConaughey.

Gravity

High:

I always love a good mind-bending space movie – I may have been the only nine-year-old who was really into the Jodie Foster vehicle Contact. But the real high is how the filmmakers created what is essentially a 2-3 person story that didn’t lose your attention for a second. Also, I appreciated that the special effects were impressive, but that I was so engrossed in the story that I wasn’t going “hey, look at those special effects!”

HEY. WE’RE DOING A SPECIAL EFFECT HERE.

Low:

As Traci noted before, Gravity isn’t billed as a “scary movie” but it is unsettling just the same. It’s not just the dangers facing the main characters, it’s the way space movies remind you that you’re a tiny inconsequential speck in the universe and your time here  – even if long by our standards – is nothing.

Her

High:

There’s a lot to be said about Her’s timely message on technology and human connections – it’s sort of a modern parable. But, I actually want to talk about the production design. Her is set in the not-so-distant future, and the filmmakers conveyed that in the most brilliant way. Instead of making the film look futuristic, with silver space-suits and lots of metal, they made it look timeless. Everything is sort of mid-century and Danish modern, and the wardrobe features a lot of natural materials and high-waisted pants. This makes sense because fashions are always cycling in and out, so it’s plausible that in a decade’s time this 1960s aesthetic will be in style. Plus, this way in 10 years the film won’t look as dated as it would if the characters were dressed like it was 2013. Instead of a hard-edged computer age color palette – metallic red, cobalt blue, jet black – everything is in muted tropical tones, with a lot of coral, teal, and soft yellow. The whole movie I kept seeing details in furniture or clothing and going “hey! look what they did there!”

Even the operating system has a clean-lined mid-century look — almost like the Steampunk idea, but for the 60s instead of early 1900s.

Low:

(1) At some point in the movie, you’re probably going to think it would be fun to be friends with an Operating System, then realize that that seems really sad.

(2) The producer, Megan Ellison, is 28. TWENTY EIGHT. There is no reason to feel inferior, because she has some crazy family connections. Her father is a billionaire and she began financing films several years ago. Ellison clearly worked hard to take advantage of the plum hand she was dealt, so I don’t fault her a bit. But rather than feeling like you’ve wasted your life, remember that Ellison didn’t exactly rise from lower- or middle-class obscurity.

Nebraska

High:

About ⅓ of my business contacts are in Nebraska, and they’re all very smart, no-nonsense, level Midwesterners. I like that in a working relationship.

Low:

My “high” was a generalized comment about Nebraskans who I know because I haven’t seen the movie yet. Maybe my “high” should be that it’s now available at Redbox, so we’ll all have time to rent it before Sunday.

Philomena

High:

Steve Coogan, in a remarkably straight role, proves that comedians often make the best dramatic actors. The script was dryly funny, and Coogan was believable as a wry journalist.

Low:

I don’t know if I saw this movie in a cinema that had smell-o-vision or what, but my theater smelled 100% like a combination of Old Lady and Church. That may be less a coincidence, and more that it was a Sunday morning show in a WASP-y suburb.

The Wolf Of Wall Street

High:

LEO. Of course.

Low:

Yeah…I didn’t see this movie. I read descriptions of some scenes that I just knew I didn’t want filling up my head-space. Maybe when it’s on HBO or something, you know?