It’s Movie Christmas!

Anyone who has read here for a while knows that when it comes to awards shows… I KEEP UP.

This morning, Oscar noms came out, and frankly, I’m pretty irritated by the machine of the Academy. Here are some initial thoughts and my picks.

(Disclaimer: I have not seen The Imitation Game, American Sniper, Foxcatcher, Two Days One Night, or Nightcrawler)

BEST PICTURE
Boyhood
The Imitation Game
Birdman
The Theory of Everything
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Whiplash
Selma
American Sniper

For my money, Boyhood is easily the best film of the year, and possibly the best film of the last five years. It is simply groundbreaking, subtle, intensely powerful work, and an exploration of the amazing power film has at its disposal. I’m okay with this list, although I think that Gone Girl should be on it.

BEST ACTRESS
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Reese Witherspoon, Wild
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
Okay, this was a shitty year for actresses. Objectively. Of these, only Moore and Witherspoon were truly leading actresses (in other words, not shared focus with a man). I have no idea what Marion Cotillard is even doing there. I didn’t see Still Alice, but my vote goes to Julianne Moore because I like her a lot. I’m glad Pike got the nom, and Jones did deserve a nom, but really. Just the worst year. My god.

Julianne Moore in Still Alice

BEST ACTOR
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
WTF no Oyelowo? I saw Selma last night and he KILLED. I can’t imagine being a not-particularly-well-known British actor and have the balls to play an American hero. And he just kills it. He was King. Also, this is like the whitest boys band of nominations I’ve ever seen. Seriously! Redmayne was great, and the nom and his GG win was well-deserved. And Michael Keaton WILL and SHOULD win. But Oyelowo, Oyelowo, Oyelowo.

David Oyelowo in Selma

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Edward Norton, Birdman
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
Robert Duvall, The Judge
I haven’t seen Foxcatcher or The Judge, so I can’t really say here. I WILL say that it’s a stacked category (funny– no female category is stacked) and of the three performances I have seen, all are deserving. My vote goes with Simmons, because it’s such a major role. However, both Norton and Hawke gave career performances.

JK Simmons in Whiplash

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Emma Stone, Birdman
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods
Laura Dern, Wild
Okay, color me CONFUSED. Where is Carrie Coon from Gone Girl? Where is Emily Blunt (who was better than Meryl) in Into the Woods? And suddenly I realize that there were NO GOOD SUPPORTING WOMEN except for Patricia Arquette. I did not think Stone was awards-worthy, Meryl is just doing goddamn Meryl (which is amazing, but I think we can take a breather maybe), and I didn’t see either Dern or Knightley so what can I say. Ladies, this can’t happen again. This industry can’t keep doing this. GSDLGAFSKJLAS

Carrie Coon in Gone Girl

BEST DIRECTOR
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
Yay to the top three (and tough choice between Boyhood and Birdman— though it should be Boyhood simply because of how ballsy Linklater was). But WHERE is Ava DuVernay for Selma? Seriously? How does a movie nominated for Best Picture NOT have noms for Best Actor or Best Director? HOW? Also, nominating DuVernay would be groundbreaking– the first woman of color to even get a nomination for director. Nope, this year is all about the white men. Also I think Gone Girl is some of Fincher’s best work but apparently no one listens to me.

David Oyelowo and Ava DuVernay on the set of Selma

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Graham Moore, The Imitation Game
Anthony McCarten, The Theory of Everything
Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
Jason Hall, American Sniper
Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice
I have only one basket in this cart and SHE’S NOT EVEN NOMINATED. I walked out of Gone Girl and was like, “wow, I have never seen a better book to film adaptation than this.” It was fucking brilliant. Adaptations are kind of a precious point for me– I have a lot of opinions about them– and this one was brilliant. Utterly genius. But no, it’s more important to add more white men writing about white men. Did you notice all the writers are white men and all the movies are about white men? Yeah.

L to R: Kim Dickens (Det. Boney), Rosamund Pike (Amy), Gillian Flynn, and Carrie Coon (Go)

Here are some final thoughts:

  • How did The Lego Movie not get a nomination?
  • Why does the Academy hate Gone Girl so much?
  • I’m about to get political, but I kind of can’t bear to see all the accolades for a movie (American Sniper) whose hero is a guy who took enormous pleasure (yes, pleasure) in killing people. I’m sure the movie is fine, but it makes me feel icky. When you put it side to side with something like Selma, I think we should feel icky about which got more noms.

Who are our American heroes?

Have You Seen Short Term 12?

One of my favorite movies of last year was Short Term 12. I saw it on recommendation from a friend’s mother, of all people, and dragged A to see it in theatres (we both love movies, but his penchant is generally not quiet indie fare).

It was incredible.

It’s on Netflix instant, which meant I just rewatched it tonight (I had a good day, but I was in the mood for a cry. Know how that is?). It is just stunningly powerful.

Short Term 12 is about a group of kids in a group home (Short Term 12) and the twenty-somethings who are basically their caretakers. Everyone in this movie is delicate and damaged, but clearly also intelligent and complex and fierce.

I had a really nice childhood, except for that whole mental illness thing. I never lived in a group home. But I do remember distinctly what it’s like to fly into banshee-like rages, to utter vile things to people who are trying to help, to simply become too overwhelmed to manage human interaction. I also know that when Nate and Mason hold Jayden down, sitting with her on the floor as she screams, and Grace says, “You don’t have to like me right now. Just let it pass,” that is exactly what ten-year-old me would have needed to hear.

Mental illness is devastating, and I feel so lucky to have come out the other side relatively unscathed. I am grateful to my parents even though they didn’t do everything right. I don’t know what I would have done. I forgive them.

No one wants to rage. No one wants to scream. No child who actually loves their parents wants to hurt them, really. I remember talking about those feelings, that violence, like a mutant bacteria, or even another person inside me. If I focus in, I can still find her. I will never forget how visceral those experiences were. I can never quite explain to anyone on the outside how little blonde me, little perfect home me, little meticulous focused me, flew into rages that involved knives and fists and and and and and, which I couldn’t control. I don’t think anyone who hasn’t experienced could really understand what that is.

Short Term 12 does a great job of humanizing these characters– their anger, their affection, their inability to let themselves be revealed, even when they are able to help others do so– and in doing so, it’s kind of unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

Five stars, highly recommended, two thumbs up, and spread the word.

P.S. I can also vouch personally that John Gallagher Jr. (who plays Mason) is a cool dude.

Speaking of what I was just writing about:

One of my friends (a male) wrote this hilarious/tragic thing. Link here: https://medium.com/p/f919637ff615

CASTING BREAKDOWN FOR NEW STUDIO FILM

Seeking actors for the following roles in our upcoming studio film.

LINDSAY

Lindsay is the kind of girl you fall in love with immediately. She’s down-to-earth, fun-loving, just one of the guys. She’s also a girl’s girl, with close girl friends.

She doesn’t ever look like she’s trying too hard, except when she is, and then she’s the most gorgeous girl on the planet — perfect figure, smoldering eyes, flawless skin — you just can’t take your eyes off her. She’s got to be that kind of sexy that knocks you off your feet and sends your heart racing, but also that girl-next-door, completely approachable in every way kind of sexy.

You know Cameron Diaz? She’s Cameron Diaz meets Sandra Bullock meets Emma Stone meets that girl from the new car explosion movie whose name we forget. She is fragile, and strong. Hilarious, but dramatically powerful. A real goofball. But hot. A hot-ball, if that makes any sense. She’s rock solid, but gooey, like a warm cookie (Hot, basically.)

You can tell just by looking at Lindsay that she is withholding a fatal secret that could destroy the world. But when she’s thinking about the secret she’s got to look smoldering. Think Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct meets Joan of Arc in life? Actresses must be comfortable with partial nudity and someone repeatedly poking them in the side of the face with a small rod, as this is an INTEGRAL part of the film. Please only submit actresses who can handle an intense workout regimen and diet. Also the rod.

Lindsay is a party animal and loves drinking and dancing all night long at the club, then going home and curling up with a cup of tea and a great romance novel. By day she’s a librarian at the local town library, by midday she’s a serial killer, by night she’s a college professor, but always hot, hot, hot. That never stops.

She owns a suit and wears a size 8 shoe, but never wears socks. How many pairs of Crocs does she own? None. No pairs. Actresses wearing Crocs in the audition will be thrown out of the room.

She has 26 freckles and many of the characters address her freckle-count at different times in the film, so please only submit actresses with this many freckles. Also Lindsay’s bones are brittle, so if we were playing Lindsay, we’d avoid Calcium on the week before reading for this part.

When Lindsay walks, she swings her left arm kind of like this. Can you see what I’m doing right now? That’s what Lindsay needs to walk like. She needs to be able to cover the entire spectrum of emotion — from “crazy” to “cool” and then from “hot” to “less hot” but then back to “hot” again.

The actress needs to be 5 foot 4 with orange-ish hair and C-cup breasts.

MAX

Max is a slacker with a heart of gold who lives with his parents. A Seth Rogen type.

It’s Happening.

I’m really happy. For now, and the work continues, but I’m going to honor happiness for just this moment and brag.

Tuesday, Feb 25, watch me get murdered at Lululemon on the show Redrum on Investigation Discovery on your local TV. 9pm. Apparently I’m good. I haven’t seen it. All I know for sure is I’m super bloody.

This September, I’m going to get paid the most I’ve ever been paid to do a month-long run of Steel Magnolias at a professional Shakespeare Festival in the West. I auditioned just “cuz” for the Artistic Director over the Christmas holiday, knowing the season was mostly cast. It’s merely my luck that they were actually looking to cast a part– he had me send a video, and I just found out I booked it.

It’s the little things.

13 Things I Learned in 2013

1. JANUARY: You can get an A+ in “being an actor,” but it still doesn’t mean you’ll succeed.

It’s about being ME, and living my life, and knowing, deep within myself, that this moment is temporary. To forgive myself when I get another “no” or I’ve gone months without a “real” job. To acknowledge that I’m WORTH forgiving. To trust myself enough to believe that the next job will come.

It’s not that you don’t do the hard work– it’s that you don’t depend upon it to make your life perfect. I don’t think I expected that when graduating from high school, or when I moved to New York, or really… ever. Until the last two years of being in the world. I’ve become more and more comfortable with it, but I have to constantly remind myself that the balance is the key. As one of my favorite professors loved to say about the process of acting (and, ergo, the process of living) is “always balancing, never balanced.”

2. February: I want all the things.

This is something that has surprised me about my relationship with A. I never dreamed about my perfect wedding, I never felt like anything was missing when I was alone, I never wanted anyone to spend money on me. But with A, I google engagement rings (not that I want him to propose yet, but again… suddenly I want all the things). I want him to buy me nice dinners. I want him to get his book deal so he can take care of our little family. I want to cook for him. I want him with me all the time.

This is not to say I’m going to get married and become a housewife and give up everything I’ve dreamed of– I’m just as ambitious as always. But I realized that I maybe do want some of the things we’re told women want, and that’s okay. Like Hannah, I feel weird about wanting all the things, but truth be told… I kinda do.

3. March: I know that there’s no quick fix to this.

Everything hurts me.
I’m easily irritated, and I hate that.
It is physically difficult to do anything, and mentally even more so.
I feel as though I’m wasting my life.
I am not entirely sure that “I am enough” for this business at all.

My spirits are very low. And the thing that makes me the most happy in the world is so far away from me. I have nothing to look forward to. I don’t know what else to do. I’m scared and feeling very hopeless. Why can’t the universe throw me a bone? A small one? Any one?

I know this will pass. I know I will eventually work again. But right now I feel like my insides are made of hardening cement– heavy and painful. Nothing give me joy right now. Everything hurts. Everything makes me cry. I want to be nowhere; to hibernate until this time is over. And I just want it go away.

4. April: Our love is the truest thing RIGHT NOW, and for the time to come.

We talk about love a lot. So do most couples.
But my darling, I UNDERSTAND you. We FIT. “I” am not a “thing” without “you.”

Just wanted to share.
I never take you for granted.
I never am not surprised and grateful when you make me coffee.

Our love is energetic and exciting and romantic, but it’s also comfortable. It’s home. And that’s something that’s harder to put into words than the platitudes and poetics that make up the language of most relationships. A year ago, I couldn’t imagine a love like this.
Now, I can’t imagine my life without it.

5. May: Self-harm is the is the easiest game to play.

I’m always amazed by the ways in which I know how to hurt myself.

Food.
Cutting.
Watching videos of my boyfriend’s ex on his computer.
Saying “no” and staying in.

I have hurt myself more than anyone has ever hurt me.

6. June: The way I see myself, the way I see the world, has transformed.

Everything changes. It would take years and years to trace each seismic shift from its starting place, to its catalyst, to its change. There are patterns, of course. My triggers are familiar. Many of my dreams are the same. But the way I see myself, the way I see the world, has transformed, and on more than one occasion.

I’m okay with that.

As long as I still find those moments where all the pieces of my life, my desires, my city, can balance momentarily on a finger. As long as I feel those sharp flashes of knowing I’m exactly where and what and who I’m supposed to be. The inside transforms the outside, and the same is true the other way around. And maybe that makes me hope that I’ll never stop changing, that with each turn of the season and spin of the axis, I’m finding my balance on the point that feels just right, at least for a moment. And then I’ll fall off, only to tip and spin and flounder until I’ve found my perfect, temporary fit again.

7. July: I hate this business sometimes, I doubt my strength when the going is tough, but I honestly CANNOT imagine my life any way but this.

And those raw moments of the play, where the only thing that exists is the look in Reed’s eyes-the kiss or kill- or the way Angie skips onstage after a betrayal, like nothing has happened, or the genuine nerves and laughter of the epilogue– I am so much myself. I get to experience worlds different from my own, physical contortions, and heartache and lust and love, it really just boils down to ME, really looking, really hearing, really standing there and taking it, and letting myself feel every bit. No hiding.

It’s not really disappearing, I guess. It’s allowing honest feeling to seep out and be seen. I am actually standing there, actually slapping his face, actually kissing his lips, actually blocking her way.

And unlike life, much of the time, I get to experience it fully. That’s what I share with the audience. And that is joy. That is release. That is certainty.

8. August: I ate pasta for dinner. And I feel A-OK about it.

Starving made (and makes) me angry. Being hungry sharpens things, sure, and I’m more productive, but I’m also touchy. I’m isolated. Everybody and everything annoys me. It’s manic, but it’s also pissy. I’m never more outwardly angry than when I’m hungry.

Binging makes me sad. I turn inward here, too, but for different reasons. I want to be invisible. People don’t piss me off– I just feel as though I don’t deserve to be near anyone, like I’m worthless and I want to be alone. It’s almost more painful because of the shame. Not eating isn’t shameful. I don’t care what anyone says. For women, and anyone who has ever experienced an ED, eating is shameful. Not eating means self-control. This is not the objective truth, but it is the truth we live every day in this society. I would get more auditions if I was starving than if I was binging. If I’m sick from not eating, that’s almost understandable. If I’m sick because I tear into myself with food, punish every body part, my stomach and my brain in particular, I lack self-control.

9. September: I am a participant in so many tiny universes.

Looking at A’s Facebook page today, loaded with those lovely “Happy Birthday!”s that pop up through the day, I noticed my universes converging. That’s how life goes, I guess, and love is the catalyst for it. Actors I worked with last summer post greetings after friends from college share their blessings. A knows these people and they know him because I exist. I love A, so I bring him places. I love my friends, so I make a point to go to those places.

I know I’m not the only one with these many orbiting galaxies, meshing and meeting, with only me, my strange and special life, at the center. How did I become someone whose world has so much variance? It makes me feel good. It makes me feel like I exist.

10. October: I have confidence that I can care for myself, for the first time in a long time.

Look at all this SHIT I had to fight through, tooth and nail, to get to this point. Look at how hard I worked. Look at all the time I spent fighting for the life I have now. I battled an eating disorder, crushing anxiety, self-hatred, depression, mania, self-injury in every way you can imagine, and I’ve come out the other side. And I have confidence that I can care for myself, for the first time in a long time. Isn’t THAT crazy?”

My life is nothing special to me, as I walk through it. And yet, I realize that I have walked through incredible forests, forded wild rivers. I am lucky to have it, and I am grateful. Overwhelmingly.

11. November: Eventually, someone will reach out to me because they want me.

Andddddd. Here is me letting go. After a day of excitement, then a day of so much nervous energy I could have powered NYC… And the video audition is taped, looks just fine, and was sent off to my agent. Now. I can feel good about this. I just need to stop fantasizing about it.

What’s next to get me excited?! Anyone? Mom and dad are coming for thanksgiving in two weeks! Artie and I have two movie dates next week! I have a play audition on Monday! I have amazing supportive friends! Life is good, y’all. And that’s the end of this chapter. Page turn, cover close, on the shelf, as high as it can go. :)

12. December: I love that in spite of EVERYTHING, every time the lights go down, my heart fills and beats just a little harder.

I love this community, despite its flaws.

I love this craft, despite its strangeness.

I love these shows, despite some of them being kind of dumb.

I love this city and its passion, despite the fact that it’s exhausting.

13.  2013 was not a “banner” year. My career was slow. The first bumps in my relationship appeared. I struggled with friendships, I struggled at work. I fucked up a lot. It’s hard to look at the strides I made last year (huge show, Equity card, agent, new boyfriend, moving in with boyfriend, new cat) and compare them to last year. Yet 2013 was not devoid of growth. It was just that the growth was subtler, harder to see, less exciting, less bright.

I rekindled incredible friendships through the process of R’s wedding.
I did a show that reminded me why I love the theatre.
I shot my first lead in a TV episode, and did really well. And had so much fun.
I am happier with my body, and also more content with my “recovery,” than ever before.
I took some great risks (new dance studio, solo vacation, new doctors).
I supported my boyfriend through a career change and the ups-and-downs therein.
I watched my boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend in a play, then watched her leave the state, and slowly stopped letting her hurt me (still working).
I had my final appointment with my amazing therapist.
I said what I wanted and boldly asked for things (“I want an audition for this.” “Could you please do the dishes?”)
I reconnected with my relatives (though my grandmother would disagree).
I attended my first wedding.
I looked more beautiful than I have ever looked before, and I felt that.
I accepted that there are things that I can’t do because they make me feel bad, and that’s okay.
I was more in love than I’ve ever been.

So yeah. 2013. Things happened. As we enter a new year, I want to continue to make things happen. I want to continue to take risks. I want to give back. I want to be kind. I want to keep learning.

What did you learn this year? And by the way, I’m so grateful for your presence in my life this year. Happy new year!

A Few Things (including pasta)

A few thoughts this late night in Washington Heights, in a queen bed, alone, while my cat drinks cold water from the glass by my bed.

1. This happened: http://goo.gl/HP0u35

2. Had tech tonight for the next show I’m doing (which doesn’t open till the 16th, but, hey, festivals.) It went fairly smoothly as far as tech goes, but because it’s a festival, we get only FOUR hours (3-7pm) to tech our 90 minute show, including staging the fifteen minute load in and fifteen minute load out. That is the ONLY time we have in the space till we open. Just to compare, most techs for full-lengths involve two 10/12 hour days, plus a dress onstage, before previews or performances begin. I cannot yet tell if this show will be any good. Frankly, I don’t care. I just want to open, and do the show (which is fun, since, ya know, acting is fun), and stop having 5 hour nightly rehearsals. Because that shit is EXHAUSTING. The disorganization is rampant and I’m over it. I’ve officially become the bitch of the cast because I JUST CAN’T WITH INEFFICIENCY. So.

3. Read WINTERGIRLS for the first time. It finally was available for download on my iPad, so I just did the damn thing. I read about it a lot when I first started reading ED blogs, but just never got around to it. (I tend to prefer memoir to fiction, anyway, and most of what I read didn’t necessarily hit that close to home as far as my ED goes). It’s a well-written book, if overwrought. SPEAK was definitely stronger, but who am I to judge. What probably hit me the most about it was the memory of feeling hungry. I obvioously still feel hungry now, but the pervasive hunger of not eating enough on a regular basis… that feels different. And it’s been a long while, and was only a brief portion of my disorder, but… Here’s what I found.

Starving made (and makes) me angry. Being hungry sharpens things, sure, and I’m more productive, but I’m also touchy. I’m isolated. Everybody and everything annoys me. It’s manic, but it’s also pissy. I’m never more outwardly angry than when I’m hungry.

Binging makes me sad. I turn inward here, too, but for different reasons. I want to be invisible. People don’t piss me off– I just feel as though I don’t deserve to be near anyone, like I’m worthless and I want to be alone. It’s almost more painful because of the shame. Not eating isn’t shameful. I don’t care what anyone says. For women, and anyone who has ever experienced an ED, eating is shameful. Not eating means self-control. This is not the objective truth, but it is the truth we live every day in this society. I would get more auditions if I was starving than if I was binging. If I’m sick from not eating, that’s almost understandable. If I’m sick because I tear into myself with food, punish every body part, my stomach and my brain in particular, I lack self-control.

That was another aspect that I appreciated about the book. Binging is no good either.

4. Was down on Suffolk St. at the theatre, and realized I was very close to where J and R just moved in on Orchard. I texted them and asked what they were up to for the evening. They told me they were free, and that I should come over after tech. I did. We chatted a bit, then went out, split a bottle of wine, ate STUPID good and STUPID expensive food because we can, and then saw FRUITVALE STATION. Also stupid good. And stupid sad. It was genuine and fun and I felt like I had friends and it just all in all was a really, really, really excellent night.

5. I ate pasta for dinner.

Now, I haven’t restricted, really, in years. Certainly not to the point where I’m actively refusing things and avoiding eating when I’m hungry etc etc. But there’s still this part of me that knows what’s “good” to eat and what’s “bad.” Which certainly doesn’t stop me from having French Fries and dessert whenever I feel like it (which I do, and only slightly feel guilty about). But pasta. I haven’t ordered pasta in… I don’t even know. A long ass time. Even when I’m home and mom makes pasta, I tend to take a small serving and have a lot of salad or protein. What is my beef with pasta if I can eat ANYTHING else I want?!

But I had it. It was SO good. Black pasta with grilled calamari, garlic breadcrumbs, and some sort of buttery garlic sauce. This was following a yummy grilled shimp and quinoa appetizer we split, and along with a couple of glasses of merlot. This is the life, y’all. And I feel A-OK about it. I didn’t finish it. I didn’t need to. This, my friends, is rare. I’m a finisher now. If it’s there, I feel obligated to finish it. That’s, kinda, how the behavior started.

6. So anyway, I should head to bed since I should do laundry tomorrow. 😦

Love to everyone.

Love to my boy who is asleep in a bunk on a base in Vermont.

Love to my ice-water-loving cat.

Superbowl Sunday (for movie geeks)

Ladiez and Gentlemen,

It’s that time of year again… Superbowl Sunday for the movie nerds is fast approaching…

IT’S OSCAR TIME.

Those of you who have followed my blog for a while know that I really like to see movies and plays and (these days, with the wealth of great options) TV. What can I say? We all have our “things.” I have the distinct pleasure of living in NYC, where it’s as easy as hopping on a subway to catch the latest indie darling at the Angelika, or the newest British transfer to Broadway.

Now, artsy people aren’t known to be as competitive as, say, sports people. We don’t paint our faces and scream at each other. We don’t tune in every week to catch the big game. But if you’ve ever spent time around a bunch of intelligent, opinionated, well-read, -watched, and -listened artists (i.e. my friends), you will think we’re in the midst of a football huddle if you stumble upon us in a bar around this time of year.

We take this shit seriously.

One of the fun things about the Oscars, in particular, is that there really is a sort of underground, buzzy, pre-awards chatter. It’s sort of what I imagine it’s like when teams are picking their players (that does happen, right?) or people discuss the odds of a certain team winning. It’s opinion, it’s loyalty, and most of all, it’s the politics of the biz.

Every year my friends and I host a big Oscar shindig. I volunteered to host this year. Phewf. That’s another story. Everyone dresses up (formal attire, contrary to the misheard instruction of the one girl who showed up dressed as Juno one year), and everyone brings a dish wittily labeled to match a movie or movie person from that years’ ceremonies. This is the flag in the cap of our Oscar parties. This is where you prove your mettle. Previous favorite wordplay titles off the top of my head:

Up in the Eclairs
Mickey Rour-quiche and Marisa Tomei-toes (The Wrestler)
Another Year R and J didn’t come up with a title
Milk (I mean, really though)
Jes-sesame noodles in The Soba Network
CokeZero Dark Thirty
Hugo-gurt

Anyhow, all that aside, clearly we’re obsessed. Okay, I’ll single myself out. I’m obsessed. (I’m not alone, but I take responsibility for my own crazy).

I’ve seen almost everything this year. The only thing I HAVE to see before Feb. 24 is Zero Dark Thirty.

Now, hopefully you know that the noms came out yesterday. Big. Day. And the Academy went fuckin’ rogue for the most part. Even the awards bloggers who seem fairly certain about how things will go think something could cause a major upset. I mean, I know exactly what I want to happen.

Do you care about the Oscars?
What are your predictions?
What did you think of these films?
What’s your favorite movie of the year?
What did you HATE?

(also, don’t worry, I’m verbose at the beginning but it gets better toward the end)

So here, for your viewing pleasure, my personal analysis of the:

Nominations for the 85th Academy Awards

Best motion picture of the year
My prediction for this category was almost 100% correct. My only mistake? I put The Master instead of Amour. I’m pissed that The Master missed its BP nom. I understand (it came out early in the year, it’s tough subject matter, no one likes Joaquin as a dude, there’s no “plot”), but I REALLY liked it. A LOT. If you’re a movie lover, it’s so worth checking out. To the casual observer, it may be slow, complex, and obtuse. But at the very least, if you take NOTHING else from this blog post, see the interview scene with Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix. It’s maybe one of the most incredible scenes ever put on film. I don’t think I breathed ONCE.

  • “Amour”
    Okay, to be fair, haven’t seen this either. I’m sorry… I love movies, but sad French movies about old people… Just not in the mood.

  • “Argo”
    This could be an upset, though it’s looking less and less likely. Honestly, I saw Argo and Lincoln in a double feature a while ago, and liked Argo better. After a second viewing of Lincoln, I’m on its team, but Argo really was a FUN, smart, excellent thriller. What can I say? I love the genre, I love the actors, I love the humor, and I was literally on the edge of my seat.
  • “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
    Maybe my favorite movie of the year. I KNOW, I know, and I don’t want it to win BP, but guys… It was beautiful, and moving, and brave, and full of heart and soul. I haven’t seen a movie with quite that much chutzpah in… maybe ever. The girl was fucking amazing, the images were powerful, sure it was at times overwrought, but I was with it every. single. second. of the way. If you haven’t seen this movie, see it. It’s magical. It’s flawed. It’s big. It’s low-budget. But it’s so FULL, I dare you not to feel something.

  • “Django Unchained”
    I can go a few different ways with Tarantino. I don’t like the Kill Bills, but I did like Inglorious Basterds. No, it’s not “my” kind of movie, yes it was long, yes I was offended and felt uncomfortable. But if you go in knowing to expect that and you let yourself experience it, I dunno, Tarantino can get really fun. I still think I liked IB more, but Django had a couple of GREAT scenes (maybe the funniest scene of the movie, and the whole movie season, involves a pack of KKK members whining about the poor sewing job done on their white hoods), good performances (Waltz, DiCaprio, Foxx), and some genuinely intelligent moments. But I don’t think I can give a full endorsement to a movie where I had my eyes AND ears closed for at least five minutes total. Oh, also, they should’ve cut the second ending. Ya know what I mean if you saw it.

  • “Les Misérables”
    A fucking shitshow. I can’t believe I’m in the minority here, but I have no idea what on earth Tom Hooper thought he was doing. A mess, top, bottom, and sideways. I could write an epic blog post on THIS.

  • “Life of Pi”
    Beautiful! That’s my review. Haha, I mean, it’s really good. But in a year of really good movies, what makes this stand out is: “Beautiful!”

  • “Lincoln” – MY PICK / MY PREDICTION
    When I think about what movie I want to win BP, I try to think about what I think a BP should be. Of course it needs to be the strongest movie overall (acting, direction, design, writing, etc), but in a year of good movies, what constitutes the “best picture?” I think the Oscar should go to the film that will last. It doesn’t have to be a big movie, but it has to have something to say. We shouldn’t forget about it in ten years. I liked Lincoln the first time. The second time, I became convinced that by my criteria, Lincoln should win Best Picture. I may have been more attached to BOTSW, but I think Lincoln is the best film. This is “the” Lincoln movie. They did it. It’s definitive. And THAT’s a Best Picture.

  • “Silver Linings Playbook”
    Ugh. See my blog post: Silver Linings

  • “Zero Dark Thirty”
    I haven’t seen it– bad, bad me. I KNOW it’s going to be “good.” Of course! It might even be technically the “best” picture of the year. I find some of the torture stuff problematic, but I’m sure it’s good. I’m just gunning for Lincoln, folks. Gotta stand my ground. Plus, I know this is a dumb thing to say but… Didn’t Hurt Locker JUST win? So maybe let’s not re-award it? (ouch, that was mean)

 

Performance by an actor in a leading role
I woulda taken John Hawkes in The Sessions over Denzel (alum pride ova here, though!), but otherwise this was how I thought it would go. Dwight Henry for BOTSW was on a lot of peoples’ lists, and he was incredible, but I think it’s fair he was left off. For as much as I loved that movie, I know it wasn’t all “craft” in terms of the acting. Henry is a baker– that’s literally his job– who the filmmakers asked to be in the film. As much as I love crowd-sourcing low-budget movies, and as good as he was… I’m guiltily okay with sticking to the mainstream in this category. Strong category this year, too!!

  • Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook

  • Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln  — MY PICK / MY PREDICTION

  • Hugh Jackman in Les Misérables
    I love Hugh. But guys, he’s a baritone. And Valjean is a tenor. So… yeah, that’s why his voice sounds like that! And it’s not supposed to! Just FYI!!
  • Joaquin Phoenix in The Master
    I will say, I think Joaquin gave the most interesting, engaging, and powerful performance of the year. It was like he invented a new way of acting onscreen. I’ve never seen anything like it. He won’t win, and I do admit he scares me a little, but Jesus. I’ve NEVER seen a performance like the one he gave. NEVER.

  • Denzel Washington in Flight

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Strong category here too! My only prediction misstep was discounting Alan Arkin. Again, he won’t win, but I do love the love for Argo. It’s just such a MOVIE! And it’s good! I feel like that’s a relatively new thing– a mainstream genre film (i.e. Argo is a high budget thriller) that is well-written, directed, acted, and asks larger questions and deals with larger issues. You go, Ben Affleck!

  • Alan Arkin in Argo

  • Robert De Niro in Silver Linings Playbook

  • Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Master MY PICK / MY PREDICTION
    I’ll bet this is the only nod The Master gets in terms of wins. While I think Joaquin stole the show, Phil was amazing. Sometimes I find him hard to read as an actor, but he balanced the complexities of this role impeccably. Extremely unsettling to watch him navigate through the film.
  • Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln
    God knows I love TLG in this performance. I think he was the heart and soul of the movie. I just think he’s a little “goofy old dude” to take it. And for some reason not everyone loved him as much as I did.
  • Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained

Achievement in directing
SHIT GOT SO REAL HERE! Huge snubs that NO ONE predicted (even the bloggers who usually can catch the weirdness early): no Bigelow (ZDT), no Affleck, (Argo), and no Hooper (Les Mis). Instead, we got Haneke, Zeitlin, and O. Russell/Lee! Holy Shit!

  • “Amour” Michael Haneke
  • “Beasts of the Southern Wild” Benh Zeitlin
  • “Life of Pi” Ang Lee
  • “Lincoln” Steven Spielberg — MY PICK/MY PREDICTION
  • “Silver Linings Playbook” David O. Russell
    Tell me I’m not crazy… after The Fighter, this shit is cliche, dumb, and fluffy. Right?!

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Really, a stupid category this time around. For a year of great movies, the choices were really limited. I’m REALLY scared Jennifer Lawrence will win for playing a really pretty girl who shows that in pretty girls, mental illness = fun quirky sexpot!! Yay! True love! Vomit. No one was more on the JLaw train than I when Winter’s Bone came out, but now? And for this? No, girl. I’m not condoning it.

  • Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty – MY PICK
    I haven’t seen it. Whatever. It’s a crappy category and I didn’t see
    Amour and frankly, I have no doubt Chastain is great. Ugh. I hate years like this.
  • Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook —
    When ZDT was looking like it would take the cake, I predicted Chastain. But now, with the “golden four” acting noms (the first time since Reds that a movie has actors nominated in all four categories) and with none of the other three winning, I have a feeling it’ll go this way. Sigh. I’m unhappy, truly unhappy about this.

  • Emmanuelle Riva in Amour

  • Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild
    I reallllllly wanted this adorable 5 (yes FIVE!) year old to be nominated. No, she shouldn’t win, no, she won’t win, but by golly was that a tour de force, huh?!
  • Naomi Watts in The Impossible

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Rough year for the ladies!! This was pretty much what I predicted except for the completely nonsensical inclusion of Jacki Weaver. I mean, yeah, she’s good, but like, WHAT? Really though, WHAT? That surprised EVERYONE. She hasn’t one a single previous award this season– usually a sure sign you won’t get an Oscar nom. In my predictions, I put Ann Dowd for Compliance in that slot, mostly just because of wishful thinking– the woman’s been around for YEARS and is just a delight.

  • Amy Adams in “The Master”
    I mean, I’d take her career, I guess. And by I guess I mean GIVE IT TO ME.
  • Sally Field in “Lincoln” — MY PICK
    So the thing is that no one likes Mary Todd. Anyone who knows anything about American history knows she was legitimately crazy, depressed, a pain on Lincoln’s mind and wallet, and fat and ugly. (one of my dearest friends made the AMAZING comment that if you take away the “fat and ugly” part of that, she’s just like Jennifer Lawrence in SLP!!) And even in this movie, she’s not likeable. Sally Field doesn’t make her likeable, really, but you understand her. And even if not that, you tolerate her. Which is some kind of achievement. Plus she’s eloquent and delightful and has been around and she wanted this part SO BADLY.
  • Anne Hathaway in “Les Misérables” —MY PREDICTION
    Again, I can’t talk about Les Mis. I can’t. It makes me too angry. Suffice it to say I think this is bullshit and I think Anne Hathaway (who I used to think was charming) is the WORST.
  • Helen Hunt in “The Sessions”
  • Jacki Weaver in “Silver Linings Playbook”

Best animated feature film of the year
I mean, I saw none of these. Whoops!

  • “Brave” Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman — MY PICK/MY PREDICTION
  • “Frankenweenie” Tim Burton
  • “ParaNorman” Sam Fell and Chris Butler
  • “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” Peter Lord
  • “Wreck-It Ralph” Rich Moore

Adapted screenplay

  • “Argo” Screenplay by Chris Terrio
  • “Beasts of the Southern Wild” Screenplay by Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin
  • “Life of Pi” Screenplay by David Magee
  • “Lincoln” Screenplay by Tony Kushner — MY PICK/MY PREDICTION
  • “Silver Linings Playbook” Screenplay by David O. Russell

Original screenplay

  • “Amour” Written by Michael Haneke
  • “Django Unchained”Written by Quentin Tarantino
  • “Flight” Written by John Gatins
  • “Moonrise Kingdom” Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
  • “Zero Dark Thirty” Written by Mark Boal —MY PICK/MY PREDICTION

Achievement in cinematography

  • “Anna Karenina” Seamus McGarvey
  • “Django Unchained” Robert Richardson
  • “Life of Pi” Claudio Miranda
  • “Lincoln” Janusz Kaminski — MY PICK/MY PREDICTION
  • “Skyfall” Roger Deakins

Best foreign language film of the year

  • “Amour” Austria —MY PICK/MY PREDICTION
  • “Kon-Tiki” Norway
  • “No” Chile
  • “A Royal Affair” Denmark
  • “War Witch” Canada

Best documentary feature

  • “5 Broken Cameras”
    Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi
  • “The Gatekeepers”
    Nominees to be determined
  • “How to Survive a Plague”
    Nominees to be determined
  • “The Invisible War” — MY PICK/MY PREDICTION (SEE THIS MOVIE– it’s on Netflix Instant and is completely amazing and utterly devastating)
    Nominees to be determined
  • “Searching for Sugar Man”
    Nominees to be determined

Best documentary short subject
Who knows?!

  • “Inocente”
    Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine
  • “Kings Point”
    Sari Gilman and Jedd Wider
  • “Mondays at Racine”
    Cynthia Wade and Robin Honan
  • “Open Heart”
    Kief Davidson and Cori Shepherd Stern
  • “Redemption”
    Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill

Achievement in film editing

  • “Argo” William Goldenberg
  • “Life of Pi” Tim Squyres
  • “Lincoln” Michael Kahn — MY PICK/MY PREDICTION
  • “Silver Linings Playbook” Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers
  • “Zero Dark Thirty” Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg

Achievement in costume design

  • “Anna Karenina” Jacqueline Durran
  • “Les Misérables” Paco Delgado
  • “Lincoln” Joanna Johnston — MY PICK/MY PREDICTION
  • “Mirror Mirror” Eiko Ishioka
  • “Snow White and the Huntsman” Colleen Atwood

Achievement in makeup and hairstyling
I don’t even care enough to pick.

  • “Hitchcock”
    Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel
  • “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
    Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane
  • “Les Misérables” — MY PREDICTION
    Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
Where is BOTSW?! That is the only soundtrack I remember distinctly from any film this season!!

  • “Anna Karenina” Dario Marianelli
  • “Argo” Alexandre Desplat
  • “Life of Pi” Mychael Danna
  • “Lincoln” John Williams — MY PICK/MY PREDICTION
  • “Skyfall” Thomas Newman

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)

  • “Before My Time” from “Chasing Ice”
    Music and Lyric by J. Ralph
  • “Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from “Ted”
    Music by Walter Murphy; Lyric by Seth MacFarlane
  • “Pi’s Lullaby” from “Life of Pi”
    Music by Mychael Danna; Lyric by Bombay Jayashri
  • “Skyfall” from “Skyfall”  — MY PICK (c’mon, Adele)
    Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
  • “Suddenly” from “Les Misérables” — MY PREDICTION (ugh)
    Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; Lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil

Achievement in production design

  • “Anna Karenina”
    Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
  • “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
    Production Design: Dan Hennah; Set Decoration: Ra Vincent and Simon Bright
  • “Les Misérables” — MY (upsetting, nihilistic) PREDICTION
    Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Anna Lynch-Robinson
  • “Life of Pi” — MY PICK
    Production Design: David Gropman; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
  • “Lincoln”
    Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson

Best animated short film
No one has seen these!!

  • “Adam and Dog” Minkyu Lee
  • “Fresh Guacamole” PES
  • “Head over Heels” Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly
  • “Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare” David Silverman
  • “Paperman” John Kahrs

Best live action short film
Or these!!

  • “Asad” Bryan Buckley and Mino Jarjoura
  • “Buzkashi Boys” Sam French and Ariel Nasr
  • “Curfew” Shawn Christensen
  • “Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)” Tom Van Avermaet and Ellen De Waele
  • “Henry” Yan England

Achievement in sound editing

  • “Argo” Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn
  • “Django Unchained” Wylie Stateman
  • “Life of Pi” Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton
  • “Skyfall” Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers
  • “Zero Dark Thirty” Paul N.J. Ottosson — MY PICK/MY PREDICTION (anytime there are lots of bombs and guns, I generally thing that’s where it’ll go)

Achievement in sound mixing

  • “Argo”
    John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia
  • “Les Misérables” — MY PREDICTION (OMG they sang LIVE! Which no one has ever done and people in this town do eight times a week for years! Did I mention UGH?)
    Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes
  • “Life of Pi”
    Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin
  • “Lincoln” — MY PICK
    Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins
  • “Skyfall”
    Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson

Achievement in visual effects

  • “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
    Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White
  • “Life of Pi” — MY PICK/MY PREDICTION
    Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott
  • “Marvel’s The Avengers”
    Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick
  • “Prometheus”
    Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill
  • “Snow White and the Huntsman”
    Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson

Silver Linings

First of all, my heart goes out to all the victims, the families, and others affected by the tragic shooting in CT yesterday. My heart is broken. It’s unthinkable violence.

And now, onto me (ugh, terrible transition, forgive me).

It’s been a crazy week, and not really a good one. I’m moody and overwhelmed and anxious about going home on Monday with A. I had two auditions (got one callback), but nothing I’m over-the-moon excited about. You know? I think I’m just ready for home. It has been since April.

So A and I saw Silver Linings Playbook, the new David O. Russell movie, this afternoon. Those of you that have been following my blog for a while know that I LOVE movies and I devoutly follow the awards season. It’s just one of those fun things that you can do if you don’t like sports but like the strategy game. So.

Anyway, I like Russel’s work in general– Three Kings, parts of I Heart Huckabees, and The Fighter, but this… I struggled. The ads looked stupid– like rom-com bullshit stupid– but after I got drinks with R, she convinced me that it’s actually a wonderful movie “about mental illness and family, and the genetic ties of mental illness…” so I figured maybe I was wrong. Russell is a great director, and it sounded like something I’d like. Plus, all the reviews were raves.

Well. Unfortunately. I was right on first instinct. There were moments that rang true, and there were moments I laughed, but I feel like Russell didn’t succeed in treating mental illness with weight and understanding AND making a very traditional rom-com (two crazy people find each other, make each other mad, fall in love with each other, and are perfectly crazy together). It felt scattered, and so neither side felt true.

This goes against what most of the press is saying, so I’m going to draw upon a Salon article that I think deals with this point in a clearer way than I have.

After talking about various critics’ praise/judgement of the film, L.V. Anderson wonders why they seem to be missing what, to his mind, is the major crux of the film.

“Mostly because Silver Linings Playbook is a mess. That messiness is at least partly by design. .. But in addition to that choppy style there is a choppiness in the storytelling when it comes to depicting, and defining the contours of, mental illness.”

“Russell doesn’t seem particularly interested in the question of what distinguishes a person’s mental illness from his or her personality, or the question of whether medication is as effective a treatment for bipolar disorder as a pretty girl and a dance competition. Russell doesn’t highlight whether or not Pat is medicated at any given time in the film’s narrative. Though we hear Pat complain of lithium’s side effects—sluggishness, weight gain—early in the film, we don’t see him actually experience any of these side effects once he starts taking his meds. As David Denby writes in his critical New Yorker review of Silver Linings Playbook, “What’s supposed to be clinically wrong with [Pat] is inseparable from what is merely infantile in him as a character.”

“And Pat’s storyline isn’t the only one that makes Russell’s handling of mental illness baffling. Pat’s father, played by Robert DeNiro, seems to have a pretty serious undiagnosed disorder—manifesting itself in sports superstitions and a gambling addiction—but it’s his gambling that gets the plot rolling in the direction of Pat and Tiffany’s happy ending. One of Pat’s friends, played by John Ortiz, has a frightening latent violent streak that echoes Cooper’s own episodes. And Tiffany can only win Pat by lying to him repeatedly about the goal of their dance sessions—but is nonetheless presented as a perfect romantic partner for him at the end of the film, implicitly because of her own, unnamed illness.

“(Silver Linings Playbook falls into the annoying trope of implying that mentally ill people can only truly be understood by other mentally ill people, the details of their respective illnesses be damned.)”

Okay. So back to my words.

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder as a kid. I’d say that I could no longer be classified as bipolar, and childhood bipolar is different from that in adults. There WERE moments of the film that rang true in terms of mental illness (Pat’s in a good mood, but his parents are concerned that his happiness is “too happy, too up”– manic– something I’ve experienced with my own parents), but for a movie that is supposed to be catalyzed by mental illness, making the mentally ill compassionate protagonists in the story, in some way normalizing the experience of mental illness in the framework of a rom-com, Russell leaves problematic holes.

As someone who has (and will forever) suffer from mental illness, I couldn’t just let go the fact that Pat’s mood was unchanged by taking or not taking meds (nor did he have side effects, which he even referenced). I didn’t believe that Tiffany was actually struggling, and couldn’t understand why, if she indeed was, no one helped her get help. AND WHY OH WHY would anyone let the incredibly triggering situation in the final scenes of the movie possibly take place?! Pat’s therapist was in the room when the parlay was planned– and it is clearly the worst idea EVER THOUGHT UP for at least three diagnosable mentally ill characters.

Bradley Cooper does a good job. There’s some sweetness, there are some laughs. Robert DeNiro and Chris Tucker are great (I can’t talk about Jennifer Lawrence because she just takes all the parts for young women with depth).

But there’s just this part of me that felt talked down to, and felt uncomfortable with the way mental illness was ultimately handled. Are we cured by love? Does exercise provide relief from lifelong bipolar disorder? Are meds not even WORTH trying? Does mentally ill just mean “adorable mess” when it comes to women?

Things to think about. Any of you see this movie?

(Also, P.S., my favorite films of the year: Lincoln, The Master, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Argo. Yet to see are Zero Dark Thirty and Life of Pi. I’ve seen a ton more, but these are my picks for faves of the year.)

The Adventure Begins

Tomorrow, I’ll catch a cab to 57th St, where I’ll drop Franny off for a two months stay with a friend. Not L, although we tried—Sloan Kettering told her that a single claw scratch could give her a bacterial infection. Sometimes for a moment I’ll think that we can pretend everything is normal with L and that she can be fully functioning, and then the reality hits again like a sack of weights. It’s real, and she’s still incredibly sick.

Then I’ll take the PATH to Hoboken, where I, along with the actors playing my father (C) and mother (A), will be picked up in a car by another member of the cast (M). We’ll drive down the Garden State highway along the shore, deep into early summer traffic, till we reach our little town on the beach. We’ll rehearse 1pm – 7pm, and then retire to the Actor House, a mansion on the river with 8 separate bedrooms on three floors. My home for two months. In less than two weeks, we’ll open the show, somehow, though it’s still inconceivable at this point.

There is much to be excited for. We girls are going to do our nails (M’s bringing her gel manicure kit), we’ll have a screening of the playwright’s newest film, which is currently on the film fest circuit, there will be tons of grilling, wine-drinking, and sunbathing. I have been guaranteed my Equity card. It’s likely we’ll be reviewed by the NYTimes. We’re having an industry performance which may lead to a NY production. This adventure will undoubtedly change my life.

But change is scary. I’ve gotten used to living alone, the quiet and the escape from chaos, the lack of pressure to be funny and social and engaging. I’m not used to doing things with other people. And I’m not used to sharing a kitchen. The rules I follow in my own home won’t apply, but I don’t know what’s going to happen. M loves to cook and has already volunteered to put together a meal plan of dinners we can all make and share. That gives me some comfort… a structure for eating in the day. But what will I eat for breakfast? Cereal is binge food… but if I’m in a house, will I binge at all? Then that little part of my brain lights up and I think: “what if this summer was like three summers before and I could lose 15lbs? God, I wish I could lose 15lbs before photo call… how the fuck did I get cast looking like this?” and then I have to stop and shut it down.

This could be really, really good for me. It could encourage a healthy eating pattern and give me a kind of structure to my eating that I don’t control (because controlling my own eating is either a recipe for binging or starving). Maybe cooking with M will be cathartic, and the “community” dinners will take the pressure off. Or maybe I’ll be freaking out 24/7, at least for a time. I don’t know. I can’t know until we get there.

It’s perverse, but much of my comfort comes from the fact that I’m 23 playing 14 in a cast of 35+ers. I’m the baby in the play, and I’m the baby in the group. I don’t have to take charge because I’m already being taken care of. I’m a professional in the rehearsal room but they’re not idiots… I’m obviously significantly younger and less experienced. I’ve been thrilled so far with how I’ve been taken under their wings—treated like an adult in rehearsal, but allowed to be a bit wide-eyed about the whole thing. I can only hope that feeling prevails as we begin to live with each other.

And I will just have to continue to dim the light of that little part of my brain that looks at myself with disgust, that pinches my stomach, pulls at my arms. None of this has ever been about weight until my body made it about weight… the dark, heavy weight of depression manifest in my round hips and thighs. There is nothing to be done but to go day by day, to try and think less and less about how I’m seen. I will not get fired for weighing the same amount I weighed when I was cast. The costume designer will not hate me for not being able to fit in half of the juniors shorts she pulled (at least I fit in two of the four). None of these professional actors will see me in my swimsuit and gossip to each other about the thickness of my arms. And the fucking NYTimes will not call me fat. They tried that once with a ballet dancer (http://jezebel.com/5701401/dance-critic-thinks-ballerina-is-too-fat) and that did NOT go over well.

In other words, in a nutshell, in conclusion, to put it all to rest…

I am cautiously optimistic. I am hopeful and proud and excited. But I also know myself and I know what that fear that’s bubbling up, tarlike, as I’m zipping my suitcase. It’s going to be fine. Everything always is. But I have an adventure coming—steep cliffs and all.

Oscarz: Christmas for Nerds of the Theatah

No one loves Meryl Streep more than I. She is without a doubt the greatest actor of our generation, perhaps all of time. I cannot name a single false not in any role she’s played, or a single misstep in her career choices. Impossibly impeccable.

Yet I was overwhelmingly disappointed when she won Best Actress at the Oscars last night.

Full disclosure, I did not see The Iron Lady (I saw everything else this year, though… literally, I think, everything). I am not here to debate her performance, though– I am sure it is marvelous.

However, as we’ve all come to understand, the Oscars are political. Everyone knows that. Heavy campaigning, personal missteps, career timing… all of these elements are weighed along with the judgment of a performance or a film. That’s something we Oscar-lovers wrestle with and must remember throughout awards season.

Oscar Wall 2012

My problem with Meryl winning over Viola Davis has many strands.

1. Contrary to some of the arguments I’ve heard, this is by no means Meryl’s last chance to win an Oscar. She’s been nominated seventeen times… and she just gets better with age. Plus, there’s that Lifetime Achievement Award on its way. You cannot say the same for Viola– you simply cannot with assurance claim that she’ll get another shot.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Scones & Extremely Round and Incredibly Croquettes (feel free to skewer)

2. Viola Davis was the only Best Actress nominee who was also in a Best Picture nominee. Personally, I really liked The Help (which surprised me too!), although I do understand the issue people have with it. I thought Viola was remarkable. Sure, she had less to do than Meryl did, but Meryl was in a star vehicle manufactured for Oscar. Viola was the heart and soul of The Help, the foundation for a huge ensemble, and she shone.

Munchies in Paris, the Iron Pizza Lady, and French Film Toast directed by Michel Challah-navicius.

3. Hollywood is notoriously racist. Sorry, it just is. The whole entertainment industry is, in fact, because the whole industry is based on profit (this is not cynical– this is simple numbers.) I’m not trying to be a Debbie Downer, but let’s look at the numbers real quick. Meryl has won 3 Oscars (2 for Best Actress). She now has two more Oscars as all black women have for Best Actress combined (only Halle Berry has ever won BA). Meryl has 3 Oscars. Only 9 black women have ever been nominated for Best Actress in the history of the Oscars. If the Oscars are about timing… it’s time.

Hu-Gogurt.

Obviously I have a lot to say about this subject, and again I just want to clarify that I don’t begrudge Meryl her Oscar at all. She probably deserved it. BUT if we are meant to assume that the Oscars function in some sort of political, calculated way,all my calculations point to Viola. It should’ve been Viola.

Now I’ll quote some Sasha Stone from Awards Daily. She’s been a big sassafras this whole season, but this essay is quite good and really illuminates a lot of what I think about the race. I highly recommend reading the whole article if you follow awards shows at all.

Oiling the Oscar Machine
by Sasha Stone

http://www.awardsdaily.com/2012/02/oiling-the-oscar-machine/#more-50592

I knew that the fallout would be the fans of Meryl Streep rejoicing, chanting “I told you so!” and that those who were rooting for Davis would feel angry and crestfallen. I knew that the subject of race would come up again, and people would want to talk less about race and more about who deserved to win. As if there is such a thing as “deserves.” The Best Actress race is not a fair fight to begin with. There aren’t producers and Oscar dream makers lining up to make Oscar-winning roles for black women in their 40s. And though people like David Poland and Jeff Wells say things like “Viola Davis will have plenty of chances,” those of us at this long enough know that just ain’t true.

The key to this discussion is how impossible and improbable it would be for an actress like Davis ever to get a part like Streep got in The Iron Lady… Viola Davis’ entire career has been making the tiny discards of the roles she’s been offered better.