Hold on to Happiness

There are times it feels like you really have to reach to find happiness. There are times it feels like everything around you is angry, dark, and heavy. There are times when it seems like the entire media landscape—from the news to the fiction you turn to when you need to escape the news—is conspiring against your valiant attempt to find reasons to smile and laugh every day.

This seems like one of those times, doesn’t it?

Looking back on posts from previous years, it seems that around this time every year, television decides to get really dark, and this year is certainly no exception. From Jane the Virgin and Nashville to This Is Us, there’s been no shortage of tears shed over fictional characters lately. And even in the world of cinema, this has been a rough patch if you’re looking for some escapist fun and unabashed joy; Oscar season isn’t known for its happy films, but this was a particularly heavy year, where even the film being praised most ardently for its joyful spirit (La La Land) ended on a bittersweet note.

What are we to do when things look dark? We celebrate the light. We appreciate moments of pure good where we find them. And we hold on to happiness like the precious treasure it is.

I watched a lot of Fuller House in the days around the presidential inauguration this year. It’s a show that exists for no other reason than to make people happy, and it does its job well. It’s not Breaking Bad or Orange Is the New Black, and not every show needs to be or should be. Sometimes you just want to watch a silly, simple show where storylines are wrapped up in 30 minutes with a group hug. It’s a throwback to a more innocent, less cynical time, and if you’re looking for some warm, fluffy feelings in your media-consuming life, I highly recommend it.

Another show that has become my antidote to all the death and cynicism on television in recent weeks is Timeless. It’s certainly not on the same level of fluffiness as Fuller House, but it’s about three fundamentally good people working together and becoming a family through trust, respect, and empathy, which is even better than fluff. Plus, it’s a time-traveling adventure with great costumes, impeccable guest stars (Fellow Once Upon a Time fans should check it out if only for Sean Maguire’s almost inhumanly charming turn as James Bond creator Ian Fleming.), and characters you feel good about rooting for—characters who have grown more in one season than some shows allow their characters to grow during an entire run, characters who fight for each other, characters who have big hearts and are big nerds. It also has my favorite developing romance on television right now between Wyatt Logan and Lucy Preston, and there is no happier feeling than watching a fictional relationship progress from initial skepticism to respect to fake engagements to real hugs to “I cannot lose you again!” to opening hearts and taking chances—all in the course of one season.

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The Best of the 2014 Oscars

The 2014 Oscars were a little long and a little predictable, but they were also a lot of fun. There wasn’t a lot of surprise to be found in the night’s winners, but my Oscar-predicting credibility is thankful for that fact. There also weren’t a lot of surprising or shocking moments within the ceremony itself, but sometimes even a relatively tame award show can still be a thoroughly entertaining one.

It may have been the fact that the Oscars gave me a wonderful evening of laughing and talking about movies with my sister and my best friend, or maybe it’s the lack of sleep (or high amounts of caffeine in my bloodstream) talking, but I think these were my favorite Oscars in terms of entertainment value in quite some time. It probably helps that I really love Ellen DeGeneres and her particular brand of comedy—and I also really love pizza.

Today I want to focus on some of the evening’s best moments—from the speeches that moved me to the fashions that made me green with envy.

Best Performance By an Ensemble in a Selfie:

oscar selfie

Where else but the Oscars would you be able to take a photograph featuring three of Hollywood’s biggest heartthrobs, multiple living acting legends, and two of the biggest ingénues in the business? My favorite thing about the whole “selfie” bit was that it felt like everyone involved was having so much fun with it (my personal favorite being Jared Leto sprinting across the theater to be a part of it). I like seeing celebrities who genuinely seem to be enjoying themselves at big events and in each other’s company, so kudos to Ellen for taking that sense of enthusiasm and turning it into millions of re-tweets.

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Nerdy Girl Predicts: The 2014 Oscars

Gravity will probably walk away with the most Oscars tonight, but I don't think Best Picture will be one of them.

Gravity will probably walk away with the most Oscars tonight, but I don’t think Best Picture will be one of them.

After months spent sitting in darkened theaters and on comfortable couches watching movie after movie, the film fanatics’ Super Bowl has arrived—it’s Oscar Sunday! More than any Oscars in recent memory, this one has a number of important categories that might still be too close for anyone to call ahead of time. From a Best Supporting Actress race for the ages to a Best Picture group without a clear favorite, this year’s ceremony is more difficult to predict than usual, but I think that’s going to make it even more fun to watch.

Below are my picks for all 24 categories, with analysis (and my sentimental favorites) for each of tonight’s major awards. Let me know in the comments what your ballot looks like, and don’t forget to join me on Twitter, where I’ll be dissecting everything from the red carpet fashions and Ellen’s sure-to-be-fabulous hosting skills to the night’s big winners and losers.

Picture
My Pick: 12 Years a Slave
My Wish: Her
My Thoughts: No movie I saw in this past year made me think or feel as deeply as Her, but I know it doesn’t stand a chance against the big boys in this category, despite its originality. In the three-horse race between 12 Years a Slave, Gravity, and American Hustle, I expect the Academy to choose the emotionally potent historical drama (a favorite genre of theirs over the years), and the choice is not without merit—12 Years a Slave was fearless and filled with strong performances.

Actor
My Pick: Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
My Wish: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)
My Thoughts: As much as I would love to see DiCaprio (my favorite actor since the age of 10) finally take home an Oscar for what many are calling his best work to date, I don’t think anyone is taking this Oscar from McConaughey. His physical transformation was astounding, but it was the emotional commitment he gave to this role that floored me. Also, his trademark charm helped make Dallas Buyers Club not just an emotionally compelling film but also a surprisingly warm and entertaining one.

Actress
My Pick: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
My Wish: Amy Adams (American Hustle)
My Thoughts: I still haven’t seen Blue Jasmine, but I’m not sure there’s been a performance more universally accepted as the best in its category this year. This award has been Blanchett’s since the film was released. As much as I’d love for Adams to finally get Oscar recognition in a year in which she served as the sexy but surprisingly vulnerable heart and soul of my favorite ensemble of the year (and turned in another excellent performance in Her), I’m sad to say it’s just not going to happen this year.

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The 2013 Oscars: Winner and Losers

It may have been long. It may have been riddled with bad jokes and too many musical numbers. But when the right people win (which was almost completely the case last night), it’s hard to see the Oscars as anything but a fun night at the movies. So here they are, the winners and losers in my eyes from what was a memorable 2013 Oscars.

Winners: Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner

d47aff52da9036985f6987111ab70e20ec7d7266 Ben Jen US Magazine

Source: Us Weekly

Not only did they both look great, they proved once again to be the sweetest, most normal couple at the Oscars when Ben talked in his acceptance speech about how marriage is work but, “…it’s the best work. There’s no one else I’d rather work with.” Real, lasting marriages take hard work, but the key is to find someone you love working with—and I’m so happy two of my favorite people in Hollywood found that in each other.

Losers: Seth McFarlane’s attempts to be edgy
With jokes about 9-year-old nominees dating George Clooney, Rihanna and Chris Brown, and actresses looking great after getting the “flu” (a not-so-subtle reference to bulimia), there were more than a few spots where McFarlane didn’t just fall flat; he crossed the line. And I kept feeling uncomfortable when he would call out the crowd for not laughing or for reacting poorly to his jokes. It just wasn’t my style of humor, but I suppose we sadly can’t have Amy Poehler and Tina Fey host everything.

Winners: Dancers
Channing Tatum and Charlize Theron looked gorgeous during their old-Hollywood-style routine, as did Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Daniel Radcliffe. If there’s one thing McFarlane and the producers did right, it was bringing back some panache to the show in the classiest way possible: good-old-fashioned dance numbers.

Loser: Catherine Zeta-Jones
Her performance of “All That Jazz” was just painful. If you’re going to lip-synch, at least have the decency to match up your mouth with the music.

Winner: Jennifer Hudson
Now that is how you relive your Oscar glory, Ms. Zeta-Jones.

Losers: James Bond fans
Was anybody else severely underwhelmed by the Bond tribute, or was that just me? Halle Berry was the best you could do, producers? Did none of the past (or present) Bonds want to come to the Oscars?

Winners: Musical Theater Nerds
Seeing the cast of Les Misérables all on stage at once, belting their hearts out to “One Day More” was enough to give me chills and keep me rewatching multiple times. Kudos to Samantha Barks, Eddie Redmayne, Aaron Tveit, and, of course, Hugh Jackman for standing out and making the Oscars feel for a brief moment like the Tony Awards—and I mean that as a compliment.

Losers: The men of America not named Hugh Jackman and Bradley Cooper
After Jennifer Lawrence’s unfortunate tumble on her way to accept her Best Actress Oscar, Jackman and Cooper immediately rushed to her aid, proving to all the women watching that chivalry isn’t dead and gentlemen do still exist. My expectations for the opposite sex may have just been raised more than a little bit.

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Nerdy Girl Predicts: The 2013 Oscars

kristen bell so excited

It’s finally here! After months of going to see movie after movie (my credit card will thank me when award season is finally over), analyzing critical reactions, and watching every award show possible leading up to tonight, it’s finally time for the culmination of the 2013 movie awards season: The Oscars.

I’ve been watching the Oscars since I was a little kid. I remember Ben Affleck and Matt Damon winning and thinking they were my new Hollywood crushes (some things don’t change). I remember Halle Berry’s very emotional (and very long) acceptance speech for Best Actress. I remember that fantastic feeling you get when the first time a movie you actually saw in theaters wins Best Picture.

I’m a movie fanatic—always have been, always will be. Movies hold a special spot in my heart; there’s nothing quite like sitting in a theater with a bunch of strangers, experiencing the same emotional highs and lows but knowing that this one film can touch each person in this theater in a unique way. I know more about film history than I do about American history; I can probably name more Best Picture winners than I can name presidents. And I can’t wait to watch history be made again tonight.

Enough waxing poetic about my lifelong love affair with the silver screen. Here are my picks for who’s going to be taking home an Oscar tonight:

Picture: Argo
After the way it’s swept the rest of the major awards so far, I can’t see anything beating this film—and that’s more than okay with me. Although I thought Silver Linings Playbook was a better film overall, I wouldn’t be disappointed in this slightest to see Ben Affleck and the rest of the team behind this filmmaking tour de force win for this inspiring adrenaline rush of a film.

Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
No one else stands a chance, as sad as that makes me as a fan of both Hugh Jackman and Bradley Cooper’s great performances. This has been Day-Lewis’s Oscar since the day Lincoln opened in theaters.

Actress: Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
I just saw this film for the third time yesterday, and every time I see it I walk away even more impressed with the level of maturity, depth, and detail Lawrence put into her performance. She is this movie’s igniting force, the spark that intensifies the performances of everyone around her.

Supporting Actor: Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)
De Niro delivered his best work in years in this film, and I think he’s going to get recognized for that. His performance in this film is nuanced, surprisingly subtle, and grounded in a warmth that infuses the film with the sense of deep, familial love that makes it so beautiful.

Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables)
Like Day-Lewis, this has been Hathaway’s Oscar from the start, with the first trailer that was released for this film. And she more than earned it with her incredible physical dedication to the role and her gut-wrenching performance.

Director: David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)
In what should have been Ben Affleck’s category to lose, I’m picking the man who I felt got the most out of his actors and crafted the most heartfelt, quietly powerful movie of the year. In order for Silver Linings Playbook to resonate so strongly with audiences, it needed a director who could bring truly great performances out of all of his cast, and Russell certainly accomplished that—with four acting nominations for his cast to testify to that fact.

And here’s what the rest of my ballot looks like:

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