Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Laura Loves {February 2013}

It is the end of February and this month has been crazy. Between work, movies, and new toys (see below)…this month has been quite a whirlwind! But I found a few things that I really love this month! Let’s get right to it!

Jennifer Lawrence – Post Oscar Interview

I loved watching the Oscars this past weekend at the end of my “Mission Oscar Snob.” The show was pretty good this year…although the jokes they made about Tina & Amy being the best hosts were true…they are pretty awesome…there were a lot of musical numbers which I actually liked…but I could understand why some people would think it was too much. But I think one of my favorite things about the Oscars was Jennifer Lawrence at her post show press conference! A lot of people have been watching a chopped up summary version of the interview but CNN has the whole thing without cutting and I think it is much better! She is just so funny and down to earth an I hope that the industry doesn’t ever take that away from her!

Would You Rather

I came across this website via (Smart Pretty & Awkward) and it is just a fun way to waste a few minutes on the web…endless “Would You Rather” questions which also show you what percentage of people agree with your choice! Enjoy by yourself or with friends!

Should is a Dirty Word

Michelle Akin is a YouTube personality that used to publish videos with one of my absolute favorite vloggers (Grace). She also used to do more comedy and singing (she has a really great voice) but has transitioned into life coaching. I found her video about how “Should is a Dirty Word” really interesting. A good way to examine the way we talk to ourselves sometimes. I really liked the video so I thought I’d share!

Skateboarding Bulldog

This is apparently a month of videos I love because I have one more for you! I think it is pretty widely known that English Bulldogs have a tendency to enjoy board sports like surfing and skateboarding…but this particular bulldog does it better than any I’ve seen...well the skateboarding at least (at the end of the video)…if you just want to see his impressive skateboarding skills…jump to 1:27….but I think the entire video is entertaining! Thanks to Jacki for finding this one!

Surface Pro

I saved the best for last! Big news this month everyone! Remember that old beat up, loud, overheated, and falling apart laptop in this post??? Well I finally replaced it! I had been waiting for the Surface Pro to come out to replace my laptop before Microsoft even developed it. I think it was over 2 years ago when I was telling my sister that I won’t replace my laptop with a tablet until they make a tablet that will run a full operating system that is touch friendly. I didn’t want a tablet that was application based…I wanted to be able to run old programs on it but have it be a bit more mobile and have the ability to use it as both a laptop and a tablet. All the way back in June, Microsoft introduced the Surface that would come out that fall and winter…and I really thought they might have read my mind! I started saving my pennies…and when the full Windows 8 Surface Pro came out earlier this month, I made my move…and I’m sooooo glad I did! Here she is!

DSC_0046

I really can’t explain how much I love this thing. It is really everything I was imagining a few years ago (and sometimes more). I can understand why some have criticized it and how it might not be the best choice for everyone…you make compromises on both ends when you are trying to merge laptop and tablet. But to be honest, based on what I knew I wanted as far back as a few years ago, those compromises actually really work well for me. The touch cover is a great keyboard and cover. The pen is actually really awesome and the handwriting recognition is amazing. It also makes navigating around the desktop on a smaller screen much easier too. I can switch between playing with apps to using a traditional desktop in a second just like I had always imagined. Even though it is a bit heavier than other tablets, I don’t need to worry about holding it too long in my lap or when I’m laying in bed because of the kickstand (sometimes working with the flipped back touch cover for stability). But even at 2 pounds it is still a lot lighter than any ultra book convertible with a full keyboard on the market right now. The battery life isn’t as good as most app driven tablets, but with a Intel processor for running full Windows, it actually is really great compared to any laptop I have ever come across. This evening I was able to get 5 hours of use off the wall, using it for most of that time. But if I put it to sleep for a while (I even did this for a whole day of work to test it) it wakes up fast, with everything I was running still saved, and hasn’t lost any noticeable battery. I really think this could get through a whole day of casual use off the wall if sleep is utilized.

Anyway…like I was saying…these compromises work well for me to have a much faster, more mobile, and flexible device. I could say so much more but I am sure I’ve written too much already! Like I said I can see why the Surface wouldn’t be for everyone…but for someone who was waiting for this exact type of combo like me…I am VERY pleased :).

PS – I have written my last 3 blog posts on it…on my lap in the living room! To be fair…I have a lap desk that I always used to use with my laptop (because of it getting so hot) and this thing has a smaller footprint than the laptop so it works really well on there. But I have comfortably used it just on my lap before with the keyboard if I need to type something casually.

PPS – Unlike in the picture above I have rarely used it on my desk besides tonight while I’m monitoring something big running on my desktop…I feel like the picture of it on my desk in front of another computer seems a bit silly haha!

That is all I have for Laura Loves this month! I’ll be back with more at the end of March!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

And the Winner Will Be…..Oscar Predictions

It is Oscar Sunday everyone! Even though I haven’t written a review post of my last 4 movies, I managed to watch 20 of 25 movies on the EW list and 23 of 30 movies including my personal additions. These included all the nominees on the EW list with the exception of 1 (keep in mind 7 out of the EW 25 didn’t get any nominations). In fact, in each of the categories listed below, I saw ALL nominated films…except for animated feature (only saw 3 of 5 there). I think despite my crazy schedule in February I did pretty well this year! So let’s get to some predictions!

Best Actor

  • Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)
  • Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
  • Hugh Jackman (Les Misèrables)
  • Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)
  • Denzel Washington (Flight)

Who Should Win: I was completely amazed at how Daniel Day-Lewis transformed into our 16th President in Lincoln. So I really think he should win this category.

Who Will Win: I have a feeling the Academy will agree with me and hand the Oscar to Daniel.

Best Actress

  • Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
  • Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
  • Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)
  • Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
  • Naomi Watts (The Impossible)

Who Should Win: I honestly have a really hard time choosing in this category. I think everyone was really great…and I will be happy if any of these ladies won. But honestly I think I’d have to personally pick Emmanuelle Riva. I think her transformation from well and alert to partially paralyzed to unable to communicate while still trying to show emotion was amazing.

Who Will Win: I think Jennifer Lawrence has the momentum to win this year. She won the last two big award shows. I think she will take the Oscar home too.

Best Supporting Actor

  • Alan Arkin (Argo)
  • Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
  • Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)
  • Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)

Who Should Win: This is a tough one too…but I think I have to go with Christoph Waltz. I really enjoyed his performance in Django. If not Waltz, then I think De Niro should get the award this year..

Who Will Win: I am not sure who is going to win here…but Christoph Waltz got the golden globe so I’m going to predict he will take the Oscar as well.

Best Supporting Actress

  • Amy Adams (The Master)
  • Sally Field (Lincoln)
  • Anne Hathaway (Les Misèrables)
  • Helen Hunt (The Sessions)
  • Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)

Who Should Win: All these ladies were really wonderful in their roles, but Anne Hathaway blew me away. I think she should win...

Who Will Win:and I think she will.

Writing: Best Adapted Screenplay

  • Argo
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Life of Pi
  • Lincoln
  • Silver Linings Playbook

Who Should Win: The top two here for me would be Life of Pi and Silver Linings Playbook. I haven’t read either book but I have heard that Life of Pi was considered pretty difficult to make into a movie and as a viewer I think they told the story well. But I also really enjoyed the plot in Silver Linings Playbook…I guess if I had to pick, I’d have to say Life of Pi just because of how successful the difficult story was told in film…

Who Will Win: I have a feeling Silver Linings Playbook will actually win here.

Writing: Best Original Screenplay

  • Amour
  • Django Unchained
  • Flight
  • Moonrise Kingdom
  • Zero Dark Thirty

Who Should Win: I actually really enjoyed the story in many of these films….but I think the best was Django Unchained.

Who Will Win: I think the Academy will agree with me here. I think Django Unchained will win the Oscar.

Best Directing

  • Michael Haneke (Amour)
  • Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
  • Ang Lee (Life of Pi)
  • Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)
  • David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)

Who Should Win: People seem really peeved that Ben Affleck was left out of this category (which is why Argo seems to have so much momentum right now for the big award…and he has won every other directing award since nominations). But I really think that Steven Spielberg should win this one.

Who Will Win: With not much to go on based on previous award shows…I’ll go with Steven Spielberg.

Best Animated Film

  • Brave
  • Frankenweenie
  • ParaNorman
  • The Pirates! Band of Misfits
  • Wreck-It Ralph

Who Should Win: I saw three of these films and I think I’d have to give this to Wreck-It Ralph. I thought the story was cute and the plot was interesting. It had a nice message and I think it was overall just a really great animated feature.

Who Will Win: I think Wreck-It Ralph has a chance here but it is hard to beat Pixar….I think Brave might take it.

Best Picture

  • Amour
  • Argo
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Django Unchained
  • Les Misérables
  • Life of Pi
  • Lincoln
  • Silver Linings Playbook
  • Zero Dark Thirty

Who Should Win: As someone who saw every one of these movies…and really liked a lot of them for different reasons…I think the OVERALL Best Picture of the year should go to Lincoln. I think it was all around the best film.

Who Will Win: Argo has the most momentum going in tonight. I think it will win. 

Well those are my official predictions! I think overall a lot of these are tight races! There could be a lot of surprises tonight! If you want to make your own predictions you can do so {here}. And if you need some help…Nate Silver (famous New York Times statistician for correctly predicting most states in the Presidential Election) used some stats to predict the Oscar winners! You can find his picks {here}! Enjoy! I will probably be tweeting a bit during the Oscars tonight! Follow me {here}! And enjoy the show!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Shorts

I went to see the Live Action and Animated Oscar Nominated Short Films again this year. Overall I enjoyed the shorts more last year, but I still think they are two fun showcases to see. I wrote last year how short films tend to have a surprise or punch line…I didn’t see that as much in this years collection. The live action tended to be way more serious. I think the quick plot twists or the punch line of a short film is really what I enjoyed the most last year. I hope that there is more of that in next year’s collection. Instead of reviewing these films I’ll just give a brief overview of the plot and then do similar superlatives like last year.

Best Short Film: Animated

Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”- Maggie Simpson gets dropped off at daycare and tries to help a butterfly escape the grasp of another over zealous todler.

Adam and Dog – The story of mans best friend from a creationist viewpoint.

Head Over Heels – An older couple lives in a house together with opposite gravitational pulls. Even though they are together all the time it can seem they are living in different worlds and it can be hard for them to connect without putting in the effort.

Fresh Guacamole – A cute two minute stop motion animation about making guac…using objects instead of actual food…

Paperman – A man tries to get the attention of a pretty girl using paper airplanes across buildings…when they fail to get her attention…the paper won’t let him give up!

Most Adult Themed
 Head Over Heels
Most Kid Friendly (TIE)
 Longest Daycare / Paperman
Most Abstract (TIE)
 Fresh Guacamole / Head Over Heels
Funniest
 Longest Daycare
Cutest
Paperman
Most Original
Fresh Guacamole
Personal Favorite
 Paperman
Oscar Prediction
Paperman

Best Short Film: Live Action

Asad – A coming of age story about a boy in Somalia trying to become a good man like the wise fisherman while dealing with violence in his own town.

Death of a Shadow – A man is trapped in limbo assigned to capture images of shadows as people die. After he has taken 1000 images he has a chance to go back life…but should he?

Curfew – As a last resort, a severely depressed man is called in to watch his niece after school…with very strict rules to follow.

Henry – An older man deals with the terrible confusion of Alzheimer's while remembering his beautiful wife and their life together.

Buzkashi Boys – Two boys in Afghanistan have big dreams of becoming Buzkashi riders (a horse sport in Afghanistan) despite their seemingly depressingly predictable fates.

Most Serious  All
Most Kid Friendly  None
Funniest  Curfew
Most Abstract  Henry
Most Creative  Death of a Shadow
My Favorite  Curfew
Oscar Prediction Buzkashi Boys

Did you go see the short films this year? What did you think? I liked them but I definitely enjoyed last year’s nominees more (particularly in the Live Action category). But I’m still excited to see who will take home the big prize on Sunday! Stay tuned for more movie posts before then!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Brave Franken Beasts of the Django Flight to Argo

Some might think these mashed up movie blog titles are silly but I get a kick out of trying to make some sort of sentence(ish) out of mashing titles together haha! But there were a lot of movies to get into that title so lets get reviewing! 

{Source: Warner Brothers}

I finally managed to see Argo the other day. I had a feeling I would need to see this movie when it was first out in theaters but because it wasn’t my typical taste in movies I decided to see if it really would be part of the mission…and it was. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to catch it in time but a few theaters brought it back out for the Oscars. I expected to feel confused by the film but I actually found it really interesting. It was really an amazing CIA mission to get a group of Americans out of Iran. Even though the movie they were pretend creating seemed a bit silly, the movie did a great job of communicating how stressful and nerve wracking of a mission it really was. This movie seems to be gaining a lot of momentum in the best picture race because many people feel Ben Afleck was snubbed for a best director nomination. While I agree that I think he may have been snubbed…and I really enjoyed the film…I don’t think this would be my pick for best picture. It gets 4 stars from me. StarStarStarStar

“Flight” movie poster

{Source: Paramount}

A friend and I watched Flight the other week. This film about an alcoholic pilot who makes a miracle landing of a faulty aircraft is really interesting. I like when stories or movies try to get you to explore a gray area of life. Here you have a pilot with a clear problem…but if he hadn’t been the one flying the plane…the whole plane would have died. It gives you something to think about and tries to convey how hard of a struggle addiction really is. I think Denzel had good moments in this film but I don’t think he should win for best actor over Daniel Day Lewis. I liked the film though and would recommend it. It gets 4 stars from me. StarStarStarStar

Django-Unchained-Poster

{Source: http://unchainedmovie.com/}

I had been avoiding the movie Django Unchained for almost the entire mission. I just tend to dislike Quentin Tarantino’s style of movies and I had heard this was pretty violent. I have to say Django surprised me. It WAS very violent and there were a LOT of cartoony bloody scenes…but I really enjoyed the story. It was kind of a cool story of a bounty hunter who buys freedom for a slave (Django) in exchange for help in finding some wanted men. The bounty hunter eventually returns the favor by trying to help Django free his wife. I think as a film overall I wouldn’t call it best picture, but I can understand why it won for its screenplay at the golden globes. And Christoph Waltz was really good in the film. I could see why he was nominated for his supporting role. Leonardo was actually really good as well. I think if there were room in the category he would have also been nominated. I liked Django way more than I thought I would. It gets 4 stars from me. StarStarStarStar

{Source: Disney Pixar}

I was really excited that last summer’s Pixar movie Brave was nominated for best animated picture so I could add it to the list. But I have to admit I think my expectations for Brave might have been a little too high. It was a really cute story. I did like it. But there was some slap sticky comic relief that I felt like it could have done without (not saying that stuff isn’t funny at times but sometimes it feels like it doesn’t fit in the feel of a movie). There were a few small inconsistencies that feel picky to even say out loud. But really it was a nice story with pretty animation. I enjoyed it, but not as much as I enjoyed Wreck it Ralph (which really surprises me) or How to Train Your Dragon from a few years back. It gets 3 stars from me. StarStarStar

beats-of-the-southern-wild-movie-poster

{Source: Fox Searchlight}

I was interested in seeing Beasts of the Southern Wild because of how much praise young star Quvenzhané Wallis was getting for her staring role. This film follows a little girl in Louisiana (I think) who survives a big flood on the wrong side of some levees in a community called with her father and some other locals. Its hard for me to say if this film was a nod to Hurricane Katrina because it was a bit abstract. She keeps talking in her narration about beasts staying together and being strong and how the world has to all fit together just right. It was all sort of from her perspective. I thought that concept was cute and I really thought she was great and cute in the film. But I don’t know that I really liked the movie. It was a little too abstract for me. It will be cool to see if she wins best actress but I don’t think she will get it based on the others in the category. But I don’t know that I really liked the movie. It was a little too abstract for me. It gets 2 stars from me. StarStar

Frankenweenie movie poster

{Source: Disney}

Frankenweenie is a Tim Burton animated feature about a little boy who loves science and wants to bring his dead dog back to life. The story is cute I suppose but this movie didn’t really do it for me. I know many won’t agree with me but Tim Burton animation is a bit too dreary for me. It is in black and white and all the characters look like zombies or ghosts. I didn’t really think there were any exciting or unexpected twists in the plot. I don’t know…I just think it wasn’t for me. I give it 2 stars. StarStar

I went to go see the short films recently too! I have to write about those in another post…and soon…the Oscars are this coming Sunday! Have you seen any of these movies? What did you think?