Category Archives: Entertainment Guru

Hunger Games-amania!

First of all, I know I suck for being absent again for so long. It’s a busy life I lead, people! Blogging is fun, but it also gets tiring, so please excuse my downgrade to one post a week-ish.

Secondly, so angry that Angel Taylor got the boot on “The Voice”! That Katrina girl was good, but she’s no Angel. Whatever, Adam Levine. Whatever.

However, my mind is too consumed right now to be too mad because “The Hunger Games” movie FINALLY comes out tomorrow night! Yes, I’m going to see it at midnight (12:02 to be exact). Got my tickets weeks ago. Nerd status, for sure. And couldn’t be happier about it!!

Since I won’t have time to post tomorrow with an event we have going on at work, I wanted to combine “New Music Thursday” with my excitement for the movie.

I don’t normally listen to soundtracks for movies unless they’re considered epic status, but I haven’t been this excited for a movie in a really long time, so I thought I’d check out The Hunger Games tunes on Spotify. Even though I’m kind of over Taylor Swift’s music (still adore her as a person), I really enjoyed her track with The Civil Wars. The soundtrack also includes other artists I like, including Maroon 5, The Decemberists and Arcade Fire.

Then, in the middle of the soundtrack, there’s Kid Cudi. I love Kid C, don’t get me wrong, but what is he doing there? It doesn’t really make sense to me, it’s not a very good song, and it doesn’t have his usual style. Just not digging it at all.

Don’t take my word for it, though! You can listen to the entire soundtrack on Spotify or buy it on iTunes.

For the most part, it’s really good and what I expected. Kind of a folk, slow overall tone, which, if you read the books, totally makes sense since Katniss is from what used to be Appalachia. It flows really well, and overall, does a really great job of adding to the storyline.

And the Oscar Goes to…

Ah, those are the best 5 words of red carpet season in my opinion. I just LOVE The Academy Awards – the celebrities, the drama, the glamour, the really not-so-hilarious jokes … it’s times like these I wish I was an E! correspondent chatting it up with Brangelina about who they’re wearing and how much they adore one another.

Anyway, as you may or may not know, Oscar nominees were announced today. You can check out the full list here. It’s pretty much as expected, though, with a few surprises – like Melissa McCarthy of “Bridesmaids” being nominated for Best Supporting Actress (yay!) and a few let downs – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 2 getting only nods for art direction, makeup, and visual effects (boo!).

But something I’ve always wondered is how the winners are chosen. I mean, when Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, and George Clooney are in the same category, how does “the Academy” choose?

Here, ABC lists the ways that a movie is sure to score Oscar recognition (keep in mind this list is 2 years old). I’ve also added a couple of my own as I’ve observed and learned in my wannabe E! correspondent days.

1. Star a Handicapped/Disabled/Mentally Ill Character

Jenna Maroney was right — more often than not, if an able-minded, able-bodied actor can convince audiences he or she is otherwise, the academy will bow down. Leonardo DiCaprio scored his first Oscar nomination for playing the mentally handicapped brother of Johnny Depp’s character in 1993’s “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.”

“Milk” nominee Sean Penn earned his third Oscar nod for playing a mentally handicapped father in 2001’s “I Am Sam.”

Billy Bob Thornton won a best adapted screenplay Oscar for “Sling Blade,” about a mentally disabled man jailed for murder.

“Tropic Thunder,” this year’s Oscar-nominated satire about the movie industry, uses Penn’s “I Am Sam” loss to illustrate the phenomenon. Kirk Lazarus, played by Robert Downey Jr., points out several not-so-politically-correct examples to explain to Ben Stiller’s Tug Speedman why his over-the-top performance as a mentally challenged man didn’t bring home an Oscar:

Kirk Lazarus: “Everybody knows you never do a full retard.”

Tugg Speedman: “What do you mean?”

Kirk Lazarus: “Check it out. Dustin Hoffman, ‘Rain Man,’ look retarded, act retarded, not retarded. Count toothpicks to your cards. Autistic. Sure. Not retarded. You know Tom Hanks, ‘Forrest Gump.’ Slow, yes. Retarded? Maybe. Braces on his legs. But he charmed the pants off Nixon and he won a ping-pong competition. That ain’t retarded. You went full retard, man. Never go full retard. Don’t believe me? Ask Sean Penn, 2001, ‘I Am Sam.’ Went full retard. Went home empty handed.”

Also, it should not go unnoticed that in real life, Downey, who is white and American, has been nominated in the best supporting actor category for his turn as the multiple Oscar winner Kirk Lazarus, a white Australian playing a black man.

2. Make a Movie About the Holocaust

The academy loves history and few periods lend themselves to drama more than Nazi-era Germany.

Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List” won seven Academy Awards in 1994, including best picture. “The Counterfeiters,” a 2006 film about a Nazi plot to financially destabilize the United Kingdom, won Austria its first Oscar by scoring the best foreign language film award.

Hoping to take advantage of the trend this year: “The Reader,” about a Nazi war crimes trial, is up for five awards, including best picture and best actress for Kate Winslet.

3. If Not the Holocaust, Make It a Period Piece

As noted, Oscar voters veer toward films with historical grounding. Elizabethan England’s fared well with the academy — 1998’s “Shakespeare in Love” won seven Oscars, including best picture and best actress (Paltrow); 1998’s “Elizabeth” and its 2007 sequel, “Elizabeth: the Golden Age,” both scored a slew of major nominations and won awards for makeup and costume design, respectively. Depression-era films like “Cinderella Man,” which picked up three nominations in 2006, also stand to do well. This year, Clint Eastwood’s “Changeling” could further that legacy.

4. Make a Straight Actor Play Gay

It worked for “Brokeback Mountain.” The 2005 film about gay cowboys, played by straight Hollywood heartthrobs Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger, won three Oscars and was widely favored to take home best picture, but lost to “Crash.”

“Milk,” starring Penn as the nation’s first openly homosexual elected official, will attempt to take home the big trophy at this year’s awards.

5. Make a Hot Actress Not Hot

It’s the “take me seriously” syndrome: Often, to score an Oscar, the industry’s most attractive actresses put their looks on the chopping block in the name of their craft.

// // Hilary Swank successfully did it with “Boys Don’t Cry,” when she shed pounds to assume the stature of a homosexual teen boy and won a best actress Oscar for her performance. Charlize Theron shed her image as a Hollywood glamour queen to play a serial killer in 2003’s “Monster,” winning critical acclaim along with a best actress Oscar.

This year, in “Rachel Getting Married,” Anne Hathaway gave up her red carpet glow for a drug addict’s pallor — like her predecessors, she’s also up for a best actress award.

6. Make a Hot Actor Not Hot

By the same token, stripping a Hollywood heartthrob of his hunkiness has a way of wooing the academy. Granted, Javier Bardem can pin last year’s Oscar for “No Country for Old Men” primarily on his acting talents, but it didn’t hurt his case that he was able to pull off that performance sporting one of the ugliest haircuts known to man.

Adding a little weight doesn’t hurt, either.

Brad Pitt let makeup mask his chiseled good looks in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” awing audiences with the transformation. Considering the film’s bevy of nominations, including a best actor nod, he amazed the academy as well.

7. Feature a Dead Actor

When an actor dies, the academy perks up. Oscar voters have a long tradition of bestowing posthumous nominations. Among the most famous: James Dean scored two nods after his untimely death, for 1955’s “East of Eden” and 1956’s “Giant.” But winning a statue from beyond the grave is not so easy.

The last time the academy awarded a dead actor with an Oscar was when Peter Finch won best actor for 1976’s “Network.” The late Ledger could advance the trend if he scores the supporting actor Oscar for his much-lauded performance as the Joker in “The Dark Knight.”

8. Feature the Comeback of a ‘Has-Been’

America loves a comeback story; so too does the academy. After an almost 20-year-long absence from the movie industry, Depression-era star Gloria Swanson burst back onto the scene and scored a best actress nomination with her role in 1950’s “Sunset Boulevard.” Mickey Rourke did the same with his career-reviving turn in “The Wrestler.”

9. Give It Subtitles

In the same way that Americans sometimes assume Britons are intelligent by virtue of their accents alone, sticking subtitles on a film can instantly make it seem smarter and more worthy of an award.

The 1998 Italian-language film “Life Is Beautiful” went beyond winning the foreign language category to score Oscars for best music and best actor. Star/director/writer Roberto Benigni’s ecstatic, energetic acceptance speech stole the show.

// // This year’s subtitled nominee: “Slumdog Millionaire.” Though it’s acted mainly in English, a few key scenes are spoken in Hindi and feature an on-screen English translation.

10. Make It the ‘Feel-Good Movie of the Year’

Sometimes the Oscar goes not to the film that was the most aptly acted, the most visually stunning, the most precisely directed or the most well written. Sometimes, it goes to the movie that simply made everyone go “Aww!” at the end, like “Forrest Gump” in 1995, like “Titanic” in 1998 and, perhaps, like “Slumdog Millionaire” in 2009.

11. Cast a Well-Known Actor or Actress as the Opposite Sex

Case-in-point, this year’s nominee Glenn Close as Albert Nobbs in “Albert Nobbs”.

12. Age a Young Actor/Actress

Several movies, like the aforementioned “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” age young actors or actresses. Those movies also tend to get some sort of recognition.

 

5 Reasons “The Bachelor” Ben’s Love Won’t Last

Alright, so, we’re 2 weeks into this season of “The Bachelor”, and I can already tell you that Ben Flajnik’s final rose will go to the wrong girl. Why is that? I mean, sure, the show’s track record is unbelievably bad, but even despite that, Ben doesn’t have what it takes to pick the right one. Here’s why:

  1. He already likes the drama queen: Courtney is this season’s Michelle, Wes, Bentley etc, – the one we love to hate. On last night’s episode, he mentioned the fact that Courtney is the whole package. Why can’t he see past her facade? Well, because just like with any other season of this show, Courtney is only nuts around the other girls. She’s an actress (or “model” as the show tells us).

    Courtney, acting crazy.

  2. He gave the group date rose to the hottest girl: In my opinion, Blakely is gorgeous, but she’s a slightly tamer version of Courtney – not as bitchy, but certainly the type of girl that other girls hate: aggressive, forward, and mostly, just really annoying. It was clear that Jennifer should have gotten that rose, and while she is beautiful as well, she’s no vixen like Blakely. Bad move, Ben. Bad move.

    Psycho Blakely and Ben

  3. He gives people too many chances: Jenna, who was emotionally unstable in the first episode, was even more so last night. He should not have kept her around, especially considering the first night is supposed to be fun and lighthearted. Crying in a corner is no way to impress a guy in my opinion. Sorry, Jenna, but your time should have been up a week ago.

    Poor Jenna

  4. He’s a hopeless romantic: I really do like Ben. I think he’s a genuine guy, which I can’t say about many of the recent Bachelors. However, I think he has a tendency to get swept off his feet by the experiences rather than the people he is sharing them with. I don’t really believe he was in love with Ashley, but more in love with the idea of her in these exotic places, which is one of the many reasons these relationships don’t work! They should be put in more real-life situations, not in Tahiti or Bali or wherever. Anyone can fall in love in Tahiti – anyone.

    Ben and Ashley in, where? Oh yeah, FIJI!

  5. The producers have gone off the deep end: While I love a bit of TV drama, I am SO unbelievably over these “jaw-dropping” moments the show’s producers set up. Case in point, next week, it was revealed that someone (I won’t reveal who in case you all are eagerly waiting), not an original contestant, shows up wanting a chance with Ben. Naturally, the other women freak out, and she is more than likely sent right back home. Still, it’s annoying when they meddle in peoples’ lives or purposefully upset the contestants, and I honestly think it only harms the chances of the relationship working out in the end. And really, I have no idea how much of the show is real to begin with, but I know it’s not much, at least since the whole Jason – Molly season.

    Jason "I picked the wrong girl" Mesnick and Molly, now his wife.

Let’s just hope that, as much as I love “The Bachelor”, it comes to a close soon.  I’m emotionally exhausted.

Enter the World of Panem

Haven’t read The Hunger Games series yet? You’re seriously missing out. While I’ve only read the first two (still waiting for the third to be available at the library), I must confess that I haven’t been this in love with a book series, since- dare I say it? – Harry Potter.

Yes, I am somewhat of a book nerd, but even if you aren’t, I can promise The Hunger Games will not disappoint. While you can find them in the “young adult” section, the storyline is pretty complex.

Katniss Everdeen

Katniss, a 16 year old girl, lives in Panem, which is the post-apocalyptic United States. The Capitol holds all the power in the country of Panem, and surrounding the Capitol are 13 districts, each more poor than the last. Each year, the Capital holds a lottery to choose 2 participants – one boy and one girl –  from each district to participate in the Hunger Games. All 24 tributes (District 13 is uninhabited) fight to the death in the Hunger Games until there is just one winner.

Katniss’s younger sister, Prim, who is her entire world, is chosen as a District 12 tribute. Katniss willingly takes her place and has to use her skills of survival to fight in the 74th annual Hunger Games with the entire country watching.

If you really detest reading and are one of those people that only see the movies, then you may be in luck! The Hunger Games movie is set to be released on March 23, 2012. Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson, both Kentuckians :), are cast to star in the film, along with Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, and Lenny Kravitz. Check out the trailer below!

Riveting, huh? Who’s going with me at midnight on March 23rd?

Modern Family Season Premiere Tonight!

I promise I normally don’t force people to watch TV shows, but ABC’s “Modern Family” is an exception. Along with Gilmore Girls and the Big Bang Theory, it has a lot of the quirky, witty sense of humor that I love. The show won 3 Emmy’s this year, including “Best Comedy Series”. Plus, the character Phil Dunphy reminds me of Michael Scott from The Office. Win-win, right?

Here is one of my favorite scenes. Cam and Mitchell, a gay couple, have adopted Lily, a baby girl from Vietnam and are just now telling Mitchell’s family about it. Mitchell’s dad, Jay (aka Al Bundy), isn’t very supportive of Mitchell and Cam’s relationship. This is the Pilot episode, so after this scene, I was pretty much obsessed.

Don’t miss the season premiere tonight on ABC!

Bitchy Beauty & The Beast

This is super funny. I loved Beauty & The Beast as a kid…who didn’t? But this rendition just may take the cake. Don’t be too thrown off by the guy’s voice used for Belle – you’ll get used to it!

The New Bachelor!

Ben Flajnik, newest Bachelor

I love “The Bachelor” and all of its ridiculous spin-offs. Just ask my friends and boyfriend. If you call me between 8pm-10pm on Monday nights, it’s likely I won’t answer, unless I know you’re watching, too. A few of my closest friends and I have been obsessed for as long as I can remember, and it just doesn’t seem to get old. Do I know the relationships won’t last because they’re put in unrealistic, overly romantic situations and are only introduced 8 weeks prior to the finale? Yes. Do I know much of it is scripted? Yes. (Exhibit A – Bentley, anyone?) Do I hang on to every word anyway? Absolutely! It may be sad, but The Bachelor gives me something to look forward to on Mondays, especially since my closest friends, who celebrate Mondays with margaritas, live over an hour away.

Part of this ABC show’s appeal are the cat fights/fist fights. Part of it is the mushy gushy love stuff. But most of it, honestly, are the jaw-dropping moments, like when someone returns to beg for a second chance (Poor Ryan!) or that one contestant everyone hates and the audience just can’t believe the Bachelor/ette still keeps them around (Wes, Bentley, Justin “Rated R”, Michelle, VIENNA, etc.)! Bachelor Pad is sometimes even more entertaining. It’s like all my old friends have come back for a sloppy, overly dramatic reunion.

Anyway, I could go on all day, but as expected, the newest Bachelor is Ben Flajnik, the runner-up on Ashley’s season. While they seemed to understand each other’s sense of humor, and Ashley appreciated Ben’s charm and sensitivity, in the end, JP’s eyes were just too perfectly blue for Ashley to let him go, so Ben got the boot. His exit was very surprising, but more genuine than anything I’d ever seen before.  You see the losers cry and say they’re heartbroken, but Ben was angry! Good for him.

Ben’s season, which airs in January 2012 on ABC, should be equally entertaining. (We could probably find out the outcome right now on Reality Steve, but take my advice and don’t ruin it for yourself.) I’m sure Ben will have a wall up that girls feel like they can’t break through, and I’m sure there will be one (or two) crazy girls that he falls madly in love with while I scream at my TV. In the end, he’ll probably pick the wrong girl, but it’s all for TV. Right?

Don’t give up, Ben. There’s always season 3 of Bachelor Pad.