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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Oscar Night 2012

I can hardly believe that it is Oscar Night already!

This has been a weird year in our film-going life & The Big Night really seemed to sneak up on us this time. We decided early on that we weren't going to do our Annual Oscar Push this year - we just don't have the time - & my dad & stepmom (with whom we usually have a friendly competition) had come to the same conclusion. But despite choosing to take it easy this time around, & having seen a lot of our standard fare this summer but not a lot of typical Oscar fare, we have done moderately well in movie viewing leading up to the Big Show.

Best Picture: we've seen The Artist, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, & The Tree of Life. I hated Tree of Life, it's a really weird movie. We both liked Moneyball, but it is a predictable true life piece, to use its own vernacular, it's more of a base hit than a homerun movie. Midnight in Paris is great, but I'm thinking it will win Original Screenplay. Between The Artist & Hugo, I liked The Artist slightly better - both are very good, I just thought The Artist had a better overall story & presentation. Hugo will probably get Visual Effects & quite likely Art Direction (Dante Feretti!).

Best Director: we've seen The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius), Hugo (Martin Scorcese), Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen), & The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick). As I said, I really didn't like Tree of Life, it is a very strange & hard to follow film. I liked all the others. Midnight in Paris is Allen in top form again, which is delightful to see. Hugo was beautiful. But I'm going with The Artist again here.

Best Actor: we've seen The Artist (Jean Dujardin), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Gary Oldman), & Moneyball (Brad Pitt). All three men are good in their roles, again base hits. Although I haven't seen The Descendants, I've heard great things & am betting on George Clooney here.

Supporting Actor: we've seen Moneyball (Jonah Hill). He's fabulous in this movie, possibly better than Pitt, but he's a long shot in my opinion. Here I bet on Christopher Plummer in Beginners.

Best Actress: we've seen The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Rooney Mara). She's terrific in this film, & they did a decent job of adapting it although the book is still better. Nonetheless, bet against Meryl Streep? No, not likely, go for The Iron Lady here.

Supporting Actress: we've seen The Artist (Berenice Bejo). Again, a talented actress in a great role, but I'm not expecting a sweep. I went with Octavia Spencer (The Help).

Best Animated Feature: amazingly, we've seen none of the nominees! Even more amazing? The Academy did not see fit to nominate the new Winnie the Pooh film! Really now. I'm beginning to think they figured the only way to get Johnny Depp an Oscar was to have a field where Rango could be the stand-out winner. Love Johnny, but Pooh's film was great - rent it, peeps!

So, we're off to the grocery store to lay in snacks for tonight. I'm looking forward to Billy Crystal hosting again. I hope it's a good show. Oh, & rent Winnie the Pooh (or buy it!), stupid Academy that was totally worthy of a nomination & possibly even Pooh's second Oscar (first won for Blustery Day in 1969).

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sea Change

Last spring my maternal grandmother passed away at the age of 97. Last fall Bruce's paternal grandmother passed away at the age of 91. The loss of these two family matriarchs has been difficult.

The change was noticeable when we were home at Christmastime. Our parents are now the matriarchs & patriarchs. We were already calling ourselves the "crazy aunt & uncle," but now we're officially no longer the younger generation. Our nieces & nephews & first-cousins-once-removed are now the "kids." It's strange to be the adults.

Last week the sea change was again made evident when my eldest cousin passed away at the age of 58. She had beaten cancer several times, but not this one. Despite a 14 year age difference between us, Gayle's passing really hit me hard. She was the first of the twelve of us first cousins on that side of the family (I am 9th, if you're wondering), but we have all always been close. I spent summers at various cousins' houses, or they spent time at mine. We had holiday dinners, family camping trips, & reunions overflowing with extended relations.

It never seemed odd to me to have such a large family, nor did I feel distant or disconnected from any of them, despite differences in ages or living miles apart. There was a "meme" going around the internet awhile back about how cousins are our first friends, & my life really reinforced that theory! Even now, as adults, my cousins are among my dearest friends - I am always glad to see them & spend time together.

When I heard that Gayle had been moved to hospice with very little time left, I was really shaken. The first of my cousins. She played with me when I was little, even though she was a teenager. She settled the squabbles between me & her youngest brother. She sang at my wedding. She could be found, with a guitar & a big smile, leading the Family Hootenanny at every reunion. She loved & supported me & mom, & our whole big goofy family - & we all knew it, every minute of every day.

For the several days that she was in hospice care, my heart was full of thoughts of Gayle. It was hard to focus on other things. Once she had passed safely into Heaven, I was able to relax. I'm still terribly saddened by the loss of her, but comforted in the knowledge that she is at Peace, & that she loved "our whole big goofy family - & we all knew it, every minute of every day."