"Once we have completely eradicated our delusions it will be utterly impossible for us to experience unpeaceful states of mind." Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Here We Go: Oscars!

Guess. What. Next. Sunday. Is??

Why, it's only the 86th Annual Academy Awards, AKA, the Oscars! For some of you, this may not mean much, however for you fellow film buffs and fashion crazed out there, it's kiiiind of a big deal. In fact, even for you who do not think that you necessarily care about the Oscars, perhaps after reading this, you just might…

The biggest night in film certainly does boast some amazing fashion moments, however what sometimes gets lost on people is the meaning and significance of the awards banquet. The Oscars are certainly known for bringing in the A-List stars, but they also acknowledge the contributors of the world of film who are overlooked or forgotten by the general public; the documentarians, cinematographers, composers, songwriters, editors, animators, costume designers and visual effects gurus. Ultimately, it comes down to recognition. Do you ever consider the concept of recognition - complimenting, praising, applauding people for their efforts or a job well done? Do you think that if there was more recognition, there would be more good deeds in society? Thinking about the amount of attention suicide bombers and mass murderers receive, especially compared to positive acts of courage and bravery - kind of twisted no? There was an awards ceremony for young leaders in my area last month, which got me thinking about being recognized for contributions to my community. Even though I feel that the majority of the time I spend volunteering is purely due to intrinsic motivation, I will admit that it is nice for other people to acknowledge my efforts. Aside from "acting" (pun intended) as an evening of recognition, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences uses the proceeds to fund their educational opportunities for budding filmmakers. 

Revenue from Oscar night provides worldwide education outreach and grant funding to institutions and non-profit organizations for filmmaking programs, fostering a future generation of filmmakers. The Academy has recently funded programs in Sarajevo, Cuba, East Africa and Iran.
Therefore, by watching the Academy Awards on Sunday, you are supporting the advancement of technology, the pursuit of education and, most importantly, encouraging new voices in cinema!

I always try to watch the majority of the best picture nominations before the big night - how about you? The host(s) of the evening tend to make little puns and references to the various movies and so I reckon that knowing what they're talking about generally enhances the viewing experience. This year, I made note of the fact that there was an underlying theme with regards to the Best Picture nominees. It seemed that the films dealt with a heavy obstacle of survival. Did you notice? There was also an underwhelming lack of plots points focused around romantic love, as the on-screen relationships were mostly based on partnerships dependent on completing the task at hand. Kind of interesting.

Now for the fun part; here are my selections. As a disclaimer, I didn't see Philomena, Gravity or Captain Phillips. I started watching Nebraska (about 1/3 finished) but found it rather slow moving, so I shut it off. I know, cut-throat, aren't I? 


Best Picture
Best Actor in a Leading Role
Best Actress in a Leading Role
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Best Actress in a Supporting Role

BPicture: This is a challenging decision for me, torn between Wolf of Wall Street and Dallas Buyers ClubI'm going with Wolf of Wall Street because I felt like I was engaged throughout the whole film, which is ultimately what it is all about. Also, I was pleasantly surprised with "Her" because even though it has elements of everything that I enjoy (a sassy female lead, a complex and soulful man, a romantic entanglement etc.) there wasn't a lot to it. But, the soundtrack was fantastic and I guess I really empathized with Joaquin Phoenix's character. Plus, I think he was phenomenal and Scarlett Johansson really made the O.S. character really come to life, with her rather distinguished tone of voice. I think that this was partly because I could picture her whole entity playing the character (i.e. her body too) and therefore that is why it was easily envision-able. 

BLeadActor: Again, between WofW or DBC. Leo will forever be one of my favourites… does he ever make a bad movie?? I also really enjoy Matthew McConaughey and think it's rather cool that he was also in WofW. Of course he's notable for his RomCom's like How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and Failure to Launch, but my favourite film of his to date is probably the crime thriller, The Lincoln Lawyer. In DBC, he reported losing roughly 38 pounds but it seemed like a lot more. He was unrecognizable onscreen and was very convincing as a redneck homophobe dying of AIDS. Christian Bale tipped the scale of opposite way for his rendition of a con artist in American Hustle, but I was quite disappointed with the film in its entirety. I think because I really wanted to enjoy it - I loved Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook so was hoping for another great deliverable. I'm going with Matthew for the win. 

BLeadActress: Tricky. I think this was one of Meryl Streep's best roles yet - I can't recall ever seeing her so raw and stripped down! It's hard to choose her though, because she's been around forever and you just KNOW she's good, that it's not a very exciting choice. I kind of despised Cate Blanchett's character in Blue Jasmine, but I guess that means she evoked emotion out of me, so maybe it should go to her? I thought Amy Adams was quite forgettable in American Hustle and I have yet to catch Gravity or Philomena, so I guess I'm going with Cate Blanchett. 

BSupportActor: Definitely Jared Leto in DBC. He was superb and I'm so glad he's back on the big screen after touring with his band 30 Seconds to Mars. I can't wait to see what role he takes on next! I'm a huge fan of Jonah Hill, and loved his pearly grill in WofW, but think he's best when his comedic genius is showcased more. 

BSupportActress: Hm, I guess Lupita Nyong'o?! She's been nominated for upwards of 20 awards for her role of Patsey in 12 Years a Slave. From the scenes of torture, rape and a gut-wrenching plea of euthanasia, she definitely deserves it. As a whole however, 12 Years a Slave was just okay for me... I wanted there to be more of a substantial climax and there just wasn't. The best part was when you realize that the likeable white man is Brad Pitt (who's company Plan B, produced the film.. kidding… kind of. 

Do you agree with my selections, or are you leaning in another direction?? I love discussing films so feel free to let me know what you loved/despised!

Besides checking my wins like I'm playing the lottery, another thing I'm excited to do, is enjoy the caliber of entertainment; it was just announced that PINK will be gracing the stage for a performance which I'm sure will be like no other! I'm still kicking myself that I didn't score tickets to see her in concert from her last tour. Also, of course, Ellen DeGeneres will be hosting - so good! Not to mention, the list of presenters is quite extensive:

Amy AdamsKristen BellJessica BielJim CarreyGlenn CloseBradley CooperPenélope CruzBenedict CumberbatchViola DavisRobert De NiroZac EfronSally FieldHarrison FordJamie FoxxAndrew GarfieldJennifer GarnerWhoopi GoldbergJoseph Gordon-LevittGoldie HawnChris HemsworthKate HudsonSamuel L. JacksonAngelina JolieMichael B. JordanAnna KendrickMatthew McConaugheyEwan McGregorBill MurrayKim NovakTyler PerryBrad PittSidney PoitierGabourey SidibeWill SmithKevin SpaceyJason SudeikisChanning TatumCharlize TheronJohn TravoltaKerry WashingtonEmma Watson, and Naomi Watts.

I almost always tune in to the pre-show red carpet coverage, to check out the usually beautiful and often hideous gowns. As the fanciest night in film, this is the night for the designers to really showcase what they're made of. It's fun to try and guess the designer that each star is wearing and make note of any trends that come up; whether it's the colour, cut or fabric, there are almost always some noticeable similarities between looks. I also really enjoy paying attention to how a look is styled; whether they have heavy makeup a high collar and simple hair, or bold jewelry but barely-there makeup and a low cut neckline etc. There are so many awesome and just as many awkward styling decisions that are made for each attendee, that it's fun to take note of each effort.

Here are a few of my favourite Oscar looks:

Also, the Golden Globes which are hosted in January, are a great precursor to the Oscars. Here are some of my favourite looks from the 2014 Golden Globes:

Enjoy the night!!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

V-Day + Gratitude


Yesterday I read something, written by a girl who I met approximately twice in high school, that really affected me. It was beautifully written, but what really did it for me was the absolute vulnerability and complete transparent nature of her writing style in which she reflected on defining life moments and the feelings she had when she experienced them. To this person: I have been meaning to write you personally and express my gratitude. I will get around to it soon, but if by some coincidence you read this before that time and realize it's you - thank-you for being inspirational and lovely. 

I ended up reading a few more of the poems/short-stories on her blog loosely based on self-awareness and reflections, but the initial piece I read had to do with aligning what you mean with what you say. Obviously, this is an extremely basic concept, read: don't lie, however I think almost everyone underestimates the importance of honesty and often we hover in the grey zone of not being exactly honest, but not completely lying either. It's one thing to tell these "white lies" to other people, but I think we also end up telling them to ourselves, usually not on purpose, but rather because we have a difficult time being vulnerable, regardless of the audience. 

Case in point: I had intended on writing this post with a Valentine's Day theme, or as I have been referring to it as "Single's Awareness Day". My opinion of the hallmark holiday tends to fluctuate from despise to indifference which makes plenty of sense when you consider the term awareness… people who are single end up being more aware of their marital status on Valentine’s Day opposed to the other days of the year, simply because it is a day to celebrate your loved ones… and when you don't have a significant other, you end up thinking about the lack thereof...

But AHA, yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending a keynote speech, focusing on leadership. There were two specific take-away messages that I got from Drew Dudley last night and the first one was regarding abundance. Drew encouraged the audience to think less about scarcity and competition, especially concerning money and jobs, and to revert that notion into one of abundance – realizing that there is enough for everyone and to strive to add value to each individual’s life that you come in contact with. (This reminded me of the meditation retreat I attended in Australia which was based off of the book Eight Steps to Happiness, where they teach you that only by cherishing others will you ever have a chance at ultimate happiness. Needless to say, it was also very inspiring to me and I highly recommend it.) So that was a great take-away for sure, but the other take-away, which is in the same realm of adding value to others, is that of gratitude. Hallelujah! Whenever I remind myself to pause and acknowledge everything that I am feeling grateful for in that moment, I am immediately overcome with a calm serenity.

Coming full circle, when you think about the underlying point of Valentine’s Day, as I mentioned previously, it’s about celebrating your loved ones – this does NOT mean you have to celebrate a romantic partner, although that is encouraged if the option is there, but you can and should celebrate all of your loved ones, from your family to your friends! Recognizing my gratitude for all of the relationships in my life has made me focus less on my marital status of “single” and more on my life status of “fulfilled”.  Keeping with the message of being honest with myself however, means that I should also acknowledge the part of me that would prefer to also have a romantic partner to celebrate with too. The cliché of “not settling” has rendered me single on the day before the day, that being single, kind of sucks.

In efforts to shift my self-centered focus, I'd like to complete some of these 52 random acts of kindness instead. Also, because it IS a day focused on love, here is a picture I posted on Instagram once, that really resonated with me. 

Even though prospects in my little town are looking quite bleak, perhaps I’m a hopeless romantic after all… what about you?


Kiss Me, Ed Sheeran
Your Song, Elton John
She Keeps Me Warm, Mary Lambert
Head Over Feet, Alanis Morissette
Slide, Goo Goo Dolls
10,000 Miles, Mary Chapin Carpenter
Bridge Over Troubled Water, Simon and Garfunkel
Do you Realize, Flaming Lips
Such Great Heights, Postal Service
I Know, I Know, I Know, Tegan and Sara
Give Me Love, Ed Sheeran
I Wanna Dance With Somebody, Whitney Houston
Because You Loved Me, Celine Dion
Love They Say, Tegan and Sara
Someone To Watch Over Me, Frank Sinatra

Wonderful Tonight, Eric Clapton

A quaint little list of DATE IDEAS:

1 - Bike Ride     19 - Bowling     37 - Go to the Zoo     
2 - Cook Together     20 - Split a Milkshake     38 - Pick Out Each Others Outfits     
3 - Go to the Gym     21 - Aquarium     39 - Go Tanning     
4 - Match Socks Together     22 - Take a Nap     40 - Have a Harry Potter Marathon     
5 - Plant a Garden     23 - Kiss in the Rain     41 - Kiss Underwater     
6 - See a Play at a Local Theater     24 - Ride on a Ferris Wheel     42 - Watch Fireworks     
7 - Paint a Room in Your House     25 - Buy Matching Bracelets     43 - Fall asleep on the phone together
8 - Shopping     26 - Go on a Road Trip     44 - Get Ready Together     
9 - Scrabble     27 - Make Breakfast     45 - Go on a Classy Ass Date     
10 - Go to a Vineyard     28 - Write Each Other Letters     46 - Eat Ice Cream     
11 - Walk     29 - Go Mini Golfing     47 - Take a Bubble Bath Together     
12 - Picnic on the Beach     30 - Kiss at Midnight     48 - Go Running     
13 - Play the Wii     31 - Go to the Beach     49 - Have a Paint War     
14 - Play Tennis     32 - Make a Couple's Video     50 - Take a Picture Kissing     
15 - Put Together a Puzzle     33 - Sing a Song Really Loud     51 - Go on a Startbucks Date     
16 - Read a Book Together     34 - Order Chinese Food     52 - Slow Dance     
17 - Watch a Sunset     35 - Build a Blanket Fort     53 - Share Popcorn at the Movies     
18 - YOGA     36 - Stargaze     54 - Get a side by side pedicure