Best Picture Baking Project: Dances With Wolves

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Look at me actually doing this two months in a row! Maybe it’ll only take me twenty years to finish the list! I made what the internet tells me is a traditional Lakota dessert, which was almost absurdly easy to make. But first, the movie!

Had I seen this one before?

Yes, at least twice, once as a kid and then as an assignment in my film criticism class in college. On that viewing I had to restart it multiple times because I kept falling asleep.

Top 3 observations on this viewing? 

  1. It was better than I remembered, visually especially. Kevin Costner clearly loves the Western landscape and he wants the audience to see why. (It’s still too long though.)

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2. Kevin, the voice over? Why? The words you’re saying are often good, but as a director, you must know that your strength as an actor is not using words expressively. Did you really listen to this and think, “Yeah, that conveys emotion.”

It’s easy to make fun of Kevin Costner (and we did while watching this) but he has a good physical presence, so it’s confusing how that disappears when he talks.

3. The racial politics of this are…confusing. Like, I know it got praised at the time as a revisionist Western that treats the Lakota (Sioux) people as full human beings. And it does that, and it’s particularly cool that Costner has them speak speak in their own language rather than weirdly accented English. But, the Lakota’s enemies the Pawnee are still pretty stereotypically “savage” and they are portrayed as more painted and “other” than the Lakota. Also I know they need her to be a translator, but it’s a little weird that there is a white woman available for him to fall in love with in a tribe of Indigenous people.

What did it beat? Did it deserve to win? 

Awakenings – I’ve never seen it and honestly don’t know much about it. But I love Penny Marshall.

Ghost – I love this movie, watched it many times, it’s a pulpy gem, but I’m genuinely surprised it was up for Best Picture.

Goodfellas – A classic and rightfully so, and the fact that it lost best editing to Dances is a travesty.

The Godfather: Part III – Wait, I thought its pretty well acknowledged this is bad?

Dances with Wolves is better than I remembered but I think it’s fair to say this should have been Goodfellas’s year.

Bechdel Test pass?

Nope. Two women talk at one point, but its just about Kevin.

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Also, how did she get such great 80s body in her hair out on the frontier?)

I wanted to make a Lakota dessert to go along with this, and google led me to this site. I’m sure the topping I made is far from authentic, but it was delicious!

Wojapi

Ingredients

  • 2 cups frozen cherries (Note: the recipe calls for “chokecherries, but I don’t know what they are)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tsp constarch

Directions 

  1. In a sauce pan mix berries, sugar and 1/4 cup water
  2. Bring to a boil
  3. Stir cornstarch into 1/4 cup cold water until it has no lumps
  4. While berry mixture is boiling slowly add cornstarch water
  5. Stir gently until combined
  6. Simmer for 2 minutes on low heat
  7. Remove from heat
  8. Let cool for 5 minutes

 

And the Nominees Are 2019: Round 1

Happy Awards Season everyone! The Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced the Golden Globe nominations this morning, which longtime readers will know, is the official beginning of my favorite time of the year!

I have a lot of homework to do already (and we have 4 more sets of nominations still to come!), but I’ve made some progress. Here’s what I’ve seen so far:

Black Panther

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I didn’t make notes for this after I saw it, which was dumb. I think I saw it in the midst of last awards season, or right after maybe, so I just wasn’t thinking about 2019 awards yet. But, it’s really good. I see a few Marvel movies a year (certainly not all of them), and this is easily the most discussion worthy I’ve ever seen. Ryan Coogler, plays within the rules of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and does his part to set the stage for the omnibus Infinity War while also crafting a compelling story with a distinctive style.

The cast is all great, and unlike a lot of Marvel movies, it has a compelling villain (played by the really wonderful Michael B. Jordan) with motivations which, while still very flawed and wrong, are understandable. (Usually Marvel villains thought process tends to read to me as “Give me power now, I don’t need a reason now.”) Anyway, I should probably watch this again.

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You can read my poem for this movie here.

Eighth Grade

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I have some questions for Bo Burnham, who somehow went from making piano-comedy specials I fell asleep to on Netflix to writing and directing the most emotionally true take on young adolescence I’ve ever seen. Mainly my questions boil down to – how did you know? How did you know with such heartbreaking detail what it’s like to be a 13 year old girl? How the pressures of peers and culture translate into pressure put on yourself (in the heart achingly relatable image of handwritten goal lists that include things like “get a boyfriend -> how to ‘be sexy'” and Post-Its on projecting confidence peeling off of bathroom mirrors)?

“Eighth grade is the worst,” an older friend tells Kayla (the astoundingly great Elsie Fisher) says at one point, and I’ve never met an American woman who wouldn’t agree. Burnham lets that fact be the central drama in his story, doesn’t invent a conflict that plays louder or more cinematically. He’s created a beautiful portrait of how hard it is to grapple with life, and I’m so grateful for it.

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Crazy Rich Asians

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Representation matters, and the historical importance of this movie (and its nominations) is sadly needed. And it is a really fun, over the top, romantic comedy, and we don’t get enough of those any more. But, um, I didn’t write notes, because I think it’s all very beautiful and pretty silly. But it’s fun! You should see it!

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BlacKkKlansman

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I may have waited a bit too long to write my notes about this one, but it’s hard because I didn’t feel like I could be coherent about it, even the day after seeing it (when I usually write my thoughts) because this movie is a lot to process.

I guess I’ll start by saying it’s great. And the pairing of filmmaker and content can’t get much more perfect than Spike Lee with the true story of a Black man that went undercover to take down the KKK. There are certain sequences in this that are gorgeous filmmaking on a purely aesthetic level. (I’m thinking particularly of the shots of the audiences’ faces during Kwame Ture – Corey Hawkins – speech at the Black Student Union.) The acting was all pretty great. John David Washington has a quiet strength that served the repressed Ron Stallworth well, but not to be all this SNL sketch about it, my favorite performance was from Adam Driver as the Jewish officer that plays Ron’s face to the Klan. The movie requires a really complex layer cake of a performance from him and he delivers.

Looking back at this I can’t figure out why I’m not gushing about this movie. It does an excellent job of displaying both the ridiculousness and dangerous nature of white supremacy and how we as a country got to the Donald Trump, Charlottesville era, and I was floored by the last 5 minutes, which included one of the best moments of editing I have ever seen on film (where the Klansman’s torches become the Charlotteville tiki torches) but something is keeping me from saying I love this.

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A Star Is Born

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Look, this movie was going to have to be a disaster for me to not love it. I mean, I was singing along with the trailer after seeing it twice, but it exceeded even my high expectations. It could have just been a ably made remake, showcasing Lady Gaga and that would have been worthy of awards attention, but Bradley Cooper is nothing is not an overachiever. And he made a truly great movie. And yes, Lady Gaga is a genius here, and always, but he is so heartbreakingly great here too. And the supporting characters, especially Sam Elliott and Andrew Dice Clay (?!?) as the bystanders to the showbiz tragedy, are all so well drawn that the melodrama never slips into farce.

Also, the music is all great, I’m listening to the soundtrack for the 3rd time as I write these notes the day after seeing it last night. This matters because it grounds their story in real talent and art.

I could gush for a long while, but instead, I’ll just quote Tim’s Facebook post as we walked out of the theater, “It is that good.”

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The Old Man & The Gun

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David Lowery is one of my favorite filmmakers, I love the grainy, warmly lit worlds he creates for us. Casey Affleck is a supremely talented man who plays exhaustion better than anyone. (I know, I know – I paid my filmanthropy – see below.) Sissy Spacek is a luminous national treasure, but this movie belongs to Robert Redford. Apparently it is his swan song as an actor, and it feels consciously created with that in mind.

Redford plays Forrest Tucker, a man who robbed banks and escaped from prison as a vocation. The people he robbed describe him as a gentleman who was clearly happy to do what he loved. Obviously, this is a part Redford has played before and there are nods throughout to his roguish filmography, and don’t we all sort of think of Redford as a charming cad getting away with something? But we love him anyway, and this movie is a treatise on why. I highly recommend it.

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I know Casey Affleck has a troubling history with sexual misconduct, but, unlike many other famous men with similar pasts, he has paid restitution, gone to rehab, and publicly acknowledged wrongdoing. Maybe not in the exact way we would like to hear, but as far as we know, in a way in keeping with his victim’s wishes. I think this is a good model of restorative justice in a #MeToo world. If you want to join me in supporting this, consider donating money to Time’s Up.

 Beautiful Boy

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I’m struggling with my reaction to this movie. I went into it expecting it to be hard to watch, and it was at times, and to be emotionally wrecked, and I cried, but something about it left me cold. The two central performances, Steve Carell as Dave Sheff and Timothée Chalamet as his addict son are both strong and I’m sure Chalamet will get a lot of awards attention for the physicality and vulnerability of his performance, but this movie is really Carell’s and maybe that’s why I felt at a remove from its potential emotional heft.

David Sheff is a writer and he approached his son’s recovery the way he knew how, with love for sure, but also with research, but it’s very hard to dramatize research effectively. (I think maybe Spotlight is the only recent film that pulled it off.) Even a cameo from my eternal talent crush Timothy Hutton can’t make looking at brain scans as compelling as Chalamet’s face crumpling with pain. So, I guess my problem is primarily one of emphasis, this is Carell’s movie and I wish it wasn’t.

(Side note: Maura Tierney, whom I will love forever because she was Abby on “ER” and childhood obsessions never die is very good as a not at all wicked stepmother.)

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First Man

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I saw this in IMAX, which usually just gives me a headache (and it did here too), but the space flight sequences were really worth seeing on such a large screen. And I felt the jostling and panic on a visceral level. It also wasn’t a bad scale to look at Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy move their beautiful, talented faces. This is a sadder movie than I was expecting, taking on the personal tragedies of Neil Armstrong’s life and the very lethal toll of the Apollo space program.

Not to feed trolls, but I can kind of understand why right wing nationals hate this film. They do, of course, show the American flag on the moon, saying they don’t is absurd, and they certainly don’t take credit away from these fundamentally American men, who did a really brave, astounding thing. But, they also don’t just tell us the myth of American supremacy triumphant that is taught about the moon landing in schools. This was an expensive (both in money and lives) Cold War project that was not universally supported at the time and may not have been an unqualified good.

By focusing on Neil Armstrong, who, as portrayed here, was a fundamentally decent man, motivated more by math than glory, writer Josh Singer and director Damien Chazelle have made a personal rather than patriotic movie, and frankly that’s much more interesting to me.

Also, Claire Foy is fantastic and thank you to Singer for not only passing the Bechdel test in this very male environment, but giving her motivations beyond telling her husband not to go do “the brave thing.” She has a lovely, decent American pragmatism here that I just about fell in love with.

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Boy Erased

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I’m announcing it here: Lucas Hedges has achieved official Talent Crush status (he joins Saoirse Ronan, Jack O’Connell, Colin Farrell, and Timothy Hutton in this strange, hard to explain honor.) He can do so much without saying a word. In this movie, which follows him into the depressing world of gay conversion “therapy,” gives him so much space to careen from vulnerability to anger to strength back to broken and I was captivated by his face with every shift.

Nicole Kidman, as his flamboyantly Southern mother, is as fantastic as she always is. The rest of the supporting cast (with the notable exception of Britton Sear as a fellow “patient” truly tortured by the process and Joe Alwyn and Théodore Pellerin as the boys who catch Hedges’s attention for worse and better respectively) are unfortunately not given a ton to do. Joel Edgerton (who also wrote and directed), as the leader of the program, could have been a compelling villain, or even a tragic figure, but instead lopes around carrying a football, vaguely menacing. Even more of a missed opportunity, Russell Crowe, Hedges’s pastor father’s motivations are hand waved off as “beliefs” never articulated. He’s given one good scene at the end, but it feels hard to connect to given the void he had been up to that point.

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Bohemian Rhapsody

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This is mostly a paint-by-numbers musician biopic, complete with dark spiral into decadence and triumphant return to the stage. Thankfully, the musicians involved ae Queen, so the soundtrack is fantastic. The casting director for this deserves some sort of honorary Oscar, because Rami Malek is great but more remarkably the supporting cast all look so incredibly like the real life people they are portraying its almost distracting. Also, they can act.

I could rattle on here about the controversy regarding Freddie’s sexuality, and the way it is portrayed here, but in the end, it’s a PG-13 mainstream movie with a male, bisexual lead character who is more than just his sex life, and that matters. But, the best parts of this movie are recreations, and while I don’t want to explicitly not recommend this, I will let you know that Queen’s Live Aid set is available on YouTube, and it’s exhilarating.

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The original director of this film, Bryan Singer, is pretty much evil. With his alleged crimes in mind, I donated my filmanthropy money to RAINN. Click here to join me.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? 

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This is a great movie. I want to, in honor of Lee Israel, the biographer-turned-forger played by Melissa McCarthy, think of some Dorothy Parker-esque quip to begin this blurb, but it’s not coming to me. But, I found this delightfully caustic yet humane. McCarthy is wonderful as the sad-sack inverse of the constant ball of upbeat energy we’ve come to know and love her for. But her performance doesn’t play as an Oscar-grab, it just feels painfully real. Same goes for Richard E. Grant as her drinking buddy turned accomplice. This is a crime movie with little danger, no chases, but high emotional stakes, and I loved it.

Also, it has strong female and queer representation without giving a thought to traditional likability, and thank you Marielle Heller for that.

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Best Picture Baking Project: Crash

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Every list of “worst Best Pictures” of all time includes the movie Crash, and so, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to getting to the next movie on my list, but it did give me a chance to attempt to make my favorite dessert, crème brûlée (because you crash through the surface…get it…), which wasn’t a complete success, but definitely less of a disaster than this movie.

Had I seen this one before? 

Yes. I saw it the year it came out, I was in high school, and remember liking it a lot. And then I saw it again in college and remember hating it a lot. I thought maybe on this viewing I would find a middle ground, but honestly I came away flabbergasted at my high school self. What grabbed me so much about this?

Top 3 observations on this viewing?

  1. Wow, wow, wow, this movie is heavy handed. Did you know racism is bad? Did you know that Americans like to shoot each other with guns? Did you know that every person you have ever met is prejudiced in some way? Also, racism, still bad. As are guns.

         Of course, these aren’t bad messages on their own, but so few of the people in this               movie seem like actual humans with emotions and lives, instead they are all archetypes with Beliefs and anger issues. And this “all people are prejudiced in their own way” philosophy leads to some really, really strange false equivalences, the unintentionally funniest of which is the way that police misconduct and gun violence are given the same emotional weight as Sandra Bullock falling down the stairs:

2. SO MANY SUPER UPSETTING, BATSHIT CRAZY, UNSETTLING THINGS HAPPEN AND ARE THEN JUST ABANDONED. Like, if you haven’t seen this movie since it came out (because why would you have?) did you remember that it includes Ludacris “Chris” Bridges, opening a van he stole (after hitting the Asian owner with an SUV he stole from the white DA and his racist wife, played by Brendan Fraser and Sandra Bullock) and finds it FULL OF VICTIMS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING? Because I had completely forgotten that. And in the end, he just drives off and leaves them in Chinatown with $40 and a smirk. WTF even is this movie?!?!

3. There are a couple of performances that rise above the ridiculous crap they are given to say. Matt Dillon was Oscar nominated for this, and I remember feeling that was justified at the time, and he’s not bad here (high praise, I promise.) But the only scenes that feel like they are inhabited by actual human beings, are those with Michael Peña and his daughter. So, remake Crash as a movie about a struggling locksmith who keeps running into people who talk like aliens who are one slightly stressful moment away from saying an incredibly racist thing at any moment.

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This is the believable character. That’s how subtle this film is.

What did it beat? Did it deserve to win?

Brokeback Mountain – A beautiful, heartbreaking, small story with larger social significance and lovely, sweeping imagery. It holds up.

Capote – Obviously a showcase for the central performance, but watchable on the whole.

Good Night, and Good Luck – I haven’t seen this one since the year it came out, but I loved it then, and certain moments from it are lodged in my head.

Munich – I’ve never seen it, but Steven Spielberg is pretty good at making movies.

I seriously have no idea how this won. I think Academy voters were conned into a narrative where if they didn’t vote for it they were racist. Any of the rest of these should have won over Crash, but I would give it to Brokeback.

Bechdel test pass? 

Technically, yes. But those interactions are so incredibly racist, it’s really hard for my intersectional, feminist heart to grant it a pass. Sandra Bullock being cruel to her housekeeper about her dishes or a cop trading racial slurs with the woman she got in a fender bender with is not exactly the representation I crave.

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My attempt at crème brIûlée was, in the grand tradition of custard desserts I have made for this project, less than one hundred percent successful, but I think I know what I did wrong, and have annotated the recipe below.

Torchless Crème Brûlée

Ingredients for Custard

  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Ingredients for Topping

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Directions 

  • Position rack in the middle position of your oven
  • Preheat oven to 325F
  • Set ramekins and a large casserole pan off to the side (NOTE: Don’t substitute French onion soup bowls for ramekins, they don’t work the same way)
  • Whisk together egg yolks, sugar until creamy, cohesive, and lemony in color
  • Add cream, vanilla and salt
  • Which until smooth and combined
  • Carefulle divide mixture between four ramekins, filled about 3/4 of the way full
  • Pour 1/3 an inch water in baking pan
  • Place ramekins in water and fill until water is about halfway up ramekins
  • Place pan in oven and bake for 45-60 minutes, custard should be slightly set
  • Let cool (NOTE: Don’t forget completely to let them cool, you will basically make sweet soup) 
  • While ramekins cool, remove water from baking pan
  • Set oven to broil
  • Place ramekins back in dish
  • Sprinkle remaining sugar evenly over the top of the custar
  • Place pan under broiler for 3-5 minutes monitoring closely to avoid burning

Best Picture Baking Project: Cimarron

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I think at some point I’ve explained on the blog that the reason that I’m doing this project alphabetically was to avoid “getting stuck in the 30s.” Well, so far the early winners I’ve watched (All Quiet on the Western Front and Cavalcade) had pleasantly surprised me. But…um…this one…did not. But, I found a really good cinnamon coffee cake recipe. (I chose it because I knew literally nothing about this movie going in except it’s name, which sounds like cinnamon.) But first, this mess of a movie:

Had I seen this one before? 

Nope. I thought it was about a horse named Cimarron, but it’s about a dude named Yancey Cravat, his wife Sabra, and very tangentially their son named Cimarron. (It literally took us until the penultimate scene to realize this.

Top 3 observations on this viewing?

  1. This movie is a racist, misogynist, anti-Semitic mess. Made even more so by the fact that it thinks it is being progressive by portraying Native Americans and sex workers and Jews at all without explicit condemnation. But this is how they introduce the character of Yancey’s black servant Isaiah (Eugene Jackson):
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Yes that’s an actual child hung up above a dinner table to fan the white people eating a meal. It does not get better for this character from here

2. The plot pacing of this is insane. It starts with the Land Run of 1889 in Oklahoma (with nary a mention of the Native Americans that land was stolen from by the way) and then it jumps a few times, first by 3 years, then 5, then like 20. And the main character, Yancey, disappears from the story with very little explanation twice. His wife (Irene Dunne) in the meantime has become a congresswoman, but we don’t get any details on that, because…her husband wasn’t there while it happened? Or something?

Irene Dunne and Richard Dix in Cimarron

Also Richard Dix wears SO. MUCH. MAKEUP. throughout the whole film

3. All of that being said, I know why the Academy wanted to honor this film. It was grand and ambitious, and technically a marvel for the time. I mean, look at how many people they got racing in the opening sequence:

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Apparently it took 40 cameras to capture, which is impressive, I guess.

What did it beat? Did it deserve to win? 

East Lynne – Never seen it. But the IMDB plot description seems like it as bonkers as this, but maybe less racist?

Skippy – Didn’t know this existed until right now, but it’s interesting that what is essentially a kids movie could get nominated for Best Picture at this point.

The Front Page – I’m not sure if I’ve seen this version, but I LOVE this play

Trader Horn – Also never seen this. But it’s IMDB plot includes the phrase “darkest Africa,” so it’s probably as racist as this, if not more

Umm…I obviously can’t really judge, but The Front Page is at least fun to watch. My friends and I needed multiple bottles of wine to make it through Cimarron, so…I’d say give to Ben Hecht.

Bechdel Test pass? 

Actually, yes. There are at least 4 named women, and they talk to each other about each other, and land, and the threat of those savage Native Americans. So…again, not the bastion of progressive values that it thought itself to be, but the women in it are human beings.

On the bright side, this coffee cake (adapted from this recipe) was delicious! And super easy to make!

Easy Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Directions 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Whisk together flour, salt, sugar, baking powder
  • In a separate bowl mix milk, eggs, and vanilla
  • Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet (I did it a cup at a time mixing completely after each step)
  • Add the melted butter
  • Pour batter evenly into a greased 9×13 baking pan
  • Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together
  • Spread cinnamon sugar evenly onto better
  • Swirl sugar with a fork
  • Bake for 30 minutes
  • Let cool and enjoy!

Awards Show Round Up: Emmys 2018

So, I took this summer off from blogging, but you didn’t think I was going to miss a major awards show did you? Especially one that included this moment:

Of course, nothing else was that epic, but there were some fun moments and surprise winners. Here were my highlights:

Pretty solid, topical opening number:

(Michael Che and Colin Jost were fine, their monologue was fine, that is all I have to say about them, though the reparations bit was good.)

Amy Sherman-Palladino has an Emmy – actually she has multiple! (I haven’t caught up with this show yet, based on last night I really really have to, but this is justice for Gilmore Girls:

(Also you can see here the way they announced the nominees before the presenters, which was weird. There were still some good bits, but the rhythm was weird.)

Also in reasons to watch Maisel: 

Merritt Weaver years ago gave my favorite Emmy speech ever, she continues to be adorable (and overwhelmed with gratitude and nerves, whoever made her think she had to apologize for her first speech needs to get over themselves):

I didn’t watch this show, but as always, give Regina King every award ever:

When I was in college, my friends and I would sit in our sorority house and watch grainy YouTube musicals that some theater nerds (just like us!) at University of Michigan sing silly songs about Harry Potter. Then one of those kids ended up on Glee and I felt like my friend (who I had never met) was famous. Well, last night, he won an Emmy:

Also, John Mulaney is one of my favorite artists and this was characteristically adorable:

I really, really need to watch Nannette:

(Also, love that The Crown won, and I like Stephen Daldrey, but this moment was pretty perfect.)

A lot of people took fashion risks last night! Here were my favorite ones that worked out:

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Ellie Kemper in J. Mendel (Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty North America)

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Dakota Fanning in Dior Haute Couture (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

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Aidy Bryant in Tanya Taylor (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

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Tiffany Haddish in Atelier Prabal Gurung (Photo Credit: FilmMagic)

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Jessica Beil in Ralph & Russo (Photo Credit: Getty)

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Judith Light in Michael Kors Collection (Photo Credit: Getty/Steve Granitz)

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Contance Wu in Jason Wu Collection (Photo Credit: Got Celeb)

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Samira Wiley in Jenny Packham (Photo Credit: Steve Granitz/WireImage)

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Natalia Dyer in Dolce & Gabbana (Photo Credit: Getty Images + Joen Shearer)

 

 

Awards Show Round Up: Tony Awards 2018

Hey, last night were the Tonys! I haven’t been entering as many Broadway lottos recently, so I’d only seen a couple nominees, but it’s always a fun show regardless, though I have some quibbles. (No theater fan needed that Springsteen monologue, but you know what we do want – the BEST PLAYWRIGHT’s speech!!!!)

Anyway, Josh Gorban and Sara Bareilles were super charming, and started the night with a dueling piano performance, which I was pretty into:

And the speeches started out great too. I love Andrew Garfield a lot:

Give Laurie Metcalf every award, always:

Lindsay Mendez is a National Treasure:

Carousel is one of the only things I had seen, and “Blow High, Blow Low,” is a highlight of this production so I was very glad they chose it for their performances:

(Also, Justin Peck is a genius, and I would have liked the opportunity to hear his speech as well. Thanks, CBS!)

It seems like Ari’el Statchel has an interesting life and I would like to read a long form profile of him, if any papers/writers out there are taking requests:

Then this moment happened with the Parkland theater kids and I just sobbed for a long time:

I’m not a filmmaker, but if I were, and she would agree to it (I don’t think she would), I would make a movie about Glenda Jackson’s life. This woman won 2 Oscars (without ever attending the ceremony to accept either) then quit acting to be a member of the British Parliament, then came back and won a Tony. (And get her director’s name wrong):

I actually very much enjoyed Frozen’s performance, because it felt like an old school musical and the score is good and I think I would like it:

Tony Kushner is the best. That’s just a fact:

I kind of can’t believe that this is Tony Shaloub’s first Tony:

Fashion wise it was a pretty standard night, but there were a few looks I loved!

 

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Carey Mulligan in Giambattista Valli (Photo Credit: Getty)

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Laurie Metcalf in Christian Siriano (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

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Lindsay Mendez in Randi Rahm (Photo Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

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Uzo Aduba in Christina Ottaviano (Photo Credit: Dimitrio Kambouris/Getty Images North America)

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Melissa Benoist in Dior (Photo Credit: Getty, WENN)

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Christine Baranski in Alexandre Vauthier (Photo Credit: Getty)

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Jessie Mueller in Lela Rose (Photo Credit: Getty)

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Hailey Kilgore in Zac Posen (Photo Credit: Getty)

Best Picture Baking Project: Chicago

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Hey! Remember when I used to do this! It’s been over a year since the last one (which you may recall involved a botched attempt at mixing, cake, alcohol, and fire), but I finally got my act together last night and made some “Frango” mint brownies in honor of Chicago, the first musical to win Best Picture since 1969 when it won in 2003 (none as won since, though for about 3 minutes in 2016, La La Land thought they had…) Anyway, focusing on an actual best picture winner:

Had I seen this one before? 

Yes. As a musical theater middle and high schooler I watched this countless times. But I don’t actually remember when I last saw it. I had a glowing memory of it as a near perfect movie in my head, and…it doesn’t quite live up to that but it is a really fun adaptation that makes Bob Fosse mainstream somehow, which I appreciate.

Top 3 observations on this viewing? 

  1. Despite what my boyfriend referred to as, “a troubling pattern of violence against men,” this song holds up:
    And see Mya there! This movie is full of cameos! Including Dominic West! And Chita Rivera! And Lucy Liu! I’m sure that I was excited about Ms. Liu at the time, but last night I was the most excited to see Chita, since she was in the original broadway cast of Chicago and it’s pretty cool that she was included here.

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2. I remember people talked a lot about Richard Gere was miscast in a musical, because he can’t sing. But Billy Flynn isn’t a hard part to sing, the issue is that he can’t dance/give himself over to the unreality of a musical number. He sounds fine, he just looks so uncomfortable.

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Look at those shoulders! He is so tense

3. Every single character in this movie is a sociopath, except Amos (John C. Reilly). I knew it was about murders, and the beginnings of a vampiric crime press, but I mean seriously these are all the worst humans. Except Amos, bless his dumb little heart. He deserves so much better than these monsters.

What did it beat? Did it deserve to win? 

Gangs of New York – I’ve never seen all of this, I’ve heard good things, and it’s Scorsese…

The Hours – I love this movie, but it is so small and quiet, this nomination feels like its win

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers  – I have attempted to watch this multiple times and fallen asleep each time. (I will eventually see it when I get to Return of the King on this list…I promise).

The Pianist – Ooomph. This one is a gut punch.

So, it was a real grab bag of a year. At the time I was thrilled for Chicago and probably I’d still give it to them today. The Pianist is probably a better film, but Chicago is a more impressive production, which is technically what the Best Picture award is for.

Bechdel Test pass? 

Yes! They may all be horrendous criminals who murder men for revenge or money but they also have names! And they talk about their ambitions and fears and crimes.

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I wanted an old timey Chicago dessert, and all I could think of was Frango mints. I found a recipe for Frango mint fudge. But longtime readers know how fudge tends to go for me. So I adapted this recipe for mint chocolate brownies (mostly by simplifying it) and invented my own version of the classic treat:

Frango Mint Brownies 

Ingredients 

  • 1 box of fudgey brownie mix
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 8 tablespoons of butter softened to almost melted
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • 1.5 teaspoons mint extract
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions 

  • Mix and bake brownies in a 9 by 13 in pan (I baked mine only 28 minutes for more of a cakey texture)
  • While they’re baking/cooling (I popped mine in the freezer) combine powdered sugar, milk, butter, and mint extract in a large bowl using a mixer
  • When brownies are cool, spread mint cream mixture evenly over the top
  • Top with a layer of chocolate chips
  • Place in fridge or freezer to cool/solidify
  • Slice and serve!

 

 

 

Award Show Round Up: Oscars 2018

Well another awards season has come to a close, and while there were some great moments (and some important statements made) none of my personal favorites managed wins. (Except, of course, my role model Ms. McDormand – but more on that later).

Jimmy Kimmel did a good job last night of being charming, relatively inoffensive, and didn’t dwell on hatred of Matt Damon or the envelope snafu from last year.

I liked the jet ski for shortest speech gimmick (though honestly they could have played people off, that was a looooooong show.)

Mark Bridges, is living his best life up there. (Also, his costumes for Phantom Thread were so gorgeous.

Other than best picture, which I was sure was going to go to Three Billboards there weren’t many surprises with the winners. (Including unfortunately, Timothée Chalamet’s award going to a man in old age makeup yelling.)

I like Sam Rockwell a lot (though Willem DaFoe was robbed):

(Side note: Did we all know that Martin McDonagh and Phoebe Waller-Bridge were a thing? Because that’s awesome.)

I also really like Allison Janney (though Laurie and Lesley were also so amazing this year):

Kobe Bryant has an Oscar now. That’s not one I would have predicted!

Best presenters of the evening:

Though these two were pretty great too:

Jordan Peele deserved this:

I’m not sure if Guillermo deserved this or not, but I he gives good speech:

I love a good Meryl bit:

And most importantly: Frances. McDormand.

Fashion wise there was a lot of sparkle and bright bold colors, which I loved. Here were my favs:

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Sally Hawkins in Armani Privé (Photo Credit: WireImage)

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Jennifer Lawrence in Dior (Photo Credit: David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock)

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Kumail Nanjiani in Ermenegildo Zenga Couture and Emily V. Gordon in J. Mendel (Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty)

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Allison Williams in Armani Privé Couture (Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images) 

She looks beautiful, and I love that fairy-gossamer dress, but I am still not convinced she’s not going to murder someone.

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Allison Janney in Reem Acra (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

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Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Vionnet (Photo Credit: Getty/Mike Stobe)

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Jane Fonda in Balmain (Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

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Ashley Judd in Zameer Kassam and Mira Sorvino in Romona Keveža (Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

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Greta Gerwig in my favorite Oscars dress of all time which was designed by Rodarte (Photo Credit: David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock)

And the Nominees Are: Round “I Finally Saw Get Out”

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Happy Oscars Weekend! Usually by this point in the year I have a few straggler foreign or documentary nominees I’ve managed to fit in the last weeks of awards season. But this year, as anyone reading this blog even passingly could tell you, I had a major nominee blind spot that I kept pushing off seeing.

I hate horror movies. I have a very visual memory and I can’t stand gore, and I don’t understand the appeal of making myself anxious for two hours. (Thinking about this this week I’ve decided that it’s because I feel anxious a lot all on my own and I don’t experience this as a cathartic experience, instead I had to go through all of my anxiety remedies after finishing it to be able to fall asleep. But I only had one nightmare!! Healthy coping mechanisms for the win!)

OK, personal feelings on genre aside, I was told in no uncertain terms by many people, including my mother, that I had to watch this. So, I did. And, it’s really good. Like, worth watching a horror movie good.

It’ll probably win Best Original Screenplay, and it should. The premise is clever but grounded enough in reality that it never feels too far fetched (and it should, because the actual procedure is bonkers). The acting is astoundingly good. Daniel Kaluuya is a revelation, those eyes will be burned into my brain for a long time. And I don’t think I will ever be able to look at Allison Williams ever again without a shiver.

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Award Show Round Up: BAFTAs 2018

Sorry this post is a day late. I was out of traveling yesterday and I kind of completely forgot that I hadn’t done this. As far as BAFTAs go this one was a little strange. This may have been because it was first time since I started watching that Stephen Fry wasn’t the host, though Joanna Lumley was lovely. And it may have been because it was the British Time’s Up moment, but it didn’t feel quite as galvanized and united as the Golden Globes to me (is it possible that it’s just because the room was bigger?)

The other strange thing was that the show started with Best British Film going to Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri which is of course an incredibly American story. (It was also presented by Jennifer Lawrence, an American actress.) That movie went on to win basically everything, which didn’t bother me as much as it does some other people, but it’s not super exciting to me either. (Except it means lots of love for Frances McDormand, which I am never going to be mad about.)

EE Rising Star did go to a Brit, and yes, I promise I will see Get Out very soon. (Or before the Oscars at least.)

Legend!

(Side note: shout out to Timmy for walking him up the stairs. And though I knew it was going to happen last night, please stop giving Mr. Chalamet’s awards to Gary Oldman. Especially on nights when you are supposed to be lifting up the voices of women who have spoken out against their abusers. Thanks!)

We’re at that point in awards season where I begin to sound like a broken record, but I would’ve given this to Laurie, but I love Ms. Janney (and her strange space age shrug):

Speaking of women I love and their strange fashion choices:

And that speech is a good one to end on!

The all black dress code led to some unusual embellishment choices fashion wise, but there were a few looks I liked:

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Jennifer Lawrence in Christian Dior Haute Couture (Photo Credit: Getty)

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Gugu Mbatha-Raw in vintage Cardinali (Photo Credit: Lipstick Alley)

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Lily James in Burberry (Photo Credit: Getty/Mike Marsland)

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Lupita Nyong’o in Elie Saab (Photo Credit: David M. Benett/Getty Images)

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Natalie Dormer in custom Alberta Ferretti (Photo Credit: Mike Marsland/WireImage)

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Jamie Bell and Kate Mara in Dior (Photo Credit: Getty/Dav J. Hogan)

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Helena Bonham Carter (Photo Credit: Mike Marsland/WireImage)

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Florence Pugh in Miu Miu (Photo Credit: Getty)