Month: February 2015

Oscars 2015

The Awards Season is now done and dusted for another year and it’s been a great ride.

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With Sunday night’s Oscar ceremony bringing things to an end, I didn’t think I did too badly with the predictions I laid out in my previous post. I got four out of four in the acting categories (ok, so all the favourites won, which meant it wasn’t actually that difficult.) I slipped up on picking Boyhood over Birdman, but it’s not the end of the world.

What I quite enjoyed about this year’s Oscars was how political it became in places. Some of these A-Listers know the platform Oscar night gives them and used the opportunity to voice some issues that needed a voice, which I admired greatly. From Reese Witherspoon pushing along the Ask Her More campaign message to Patricia Arquette’s empowering speech, it turned out to be a night for the girls.

NPH even managed to get a joke in right at the beginning about the lack of diversity this year, which is a bit of shame considering 2014’s ceremony was a veritable smorgasbord of diversity and talent. Where 2014 had big winners in 12 Years A Slave and Dallas Buyer’s Club, which were powerful stories, highlighting important issues, I felt a little let down that Birdman was at the forefront of everything year – especially when a film like Selma was in contention as well.

So, here are my top five moments from the 2015 Oscar ceremony, in no particular order:-

  • The Opening Number

I’m a big fan of musical numbers to open Oscar ceremonies (Hugh Jackman’s in 2009 is still my favourite) and this didn’t disappoint, giving NPH a chance to do what he does best. A wonderfully written and performed song, it was the perfect homage to the history of cinema, reminding us why we love it. And Anna Kendrick’s cameo only helped make it more amazing – although I don’t think I can condone her throwing a Jimmy Choo across a stage.

  • Everything is Awesome

When The Lego Movie is involved, everything indeed is awesome. It just may have been the happiest thing I’ve ever witness and was probably worth going to the Oscars just to be able to watch it live. Or at least pick up a Lego Oscar (think Oprah loved hers!).

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  • Lady Gaga’s Performance

I’m not going to lie, I was completely blown away, and a tad surprised, the second she opened her mouth for her Sound of Music medley. I’ve got some of her songs on my iPod and know that she has a good voice, but just, wow. She definitely gave Julie Andrews a run for her money. It was truly beautiful.

  • Patricia Arquette’s Acceptance Speech

She got her thank-yous out of the way, then moved into a powerful, moving speech that felt like she was addressing the UN rather than Hollywood. Total Girl Power. And she had Meryl Streep and J-Lo fully in her corner the whole time.

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  • John Legend’s Glory Performance

Most of the Oscar top moments seem to be music based, but this Best Song nominee had a very different reaction to The Lego Movie or the opening number. Seeing the audience become so moved by a song they have tears in their eyes is wonderful. It was powerful stuff.

So those are my top five moments. A couple of notable mentions go to Eddie Redmayne’s excitable acceptance speech and Clint Eastwood not getting NPH’s Kanye West joke at all.

The Oscars may be over for another year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get excited about next year’s already. There are some fantastic films coming out over the course of 2015 and a lot to look forward to. There’s already buzz surrounding certain films that, on-paper, seem awards worthy. Will Eddie Redmayne pick up another nomination for The Danish Girl? Can Bradley Cooper get nominated for a fourth year in a row? Will Meryl Streep be able add another award to what already must be a mansion full of statues? She’s playing Emmeline Pankhurst in a film about the suffragette movement, so they might as well just engrave her name on the Best Actress award now!

There’ll be no dress critique this section though. After saying how much I admired the #AskHerMore campaign, it seems a bit hypocritical to write about the designer dresses. I love a good couture dress as much as the next person, but when they are doing red carpet interviews, I’m equally as interested in hearing about the career and opinions of the woman being interviewed.

How did you feel about the 2015 Oscars and do you agree with my top moments?

Are there any films coming out this year you’re already excited about?

xoxo

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The Bechdel Test

There’s a lot being discussed at the moment regarding the diversity, or lack thereof, in cinema these days. With the most recent Oscar nominations, there was a bit of an uproar at how it seems to be a white boys club.

Despite some amazing talent out there, women still don’t seem be able to access the same heights as their male counterparts. The highest paid actress in 2014 (Angelina Jolie at $33million) was 10th in the list if you combined males and females. While that amount of money seems very good, if you take a look at the bigger picture, you see some very big female names earning a lot less than the men.

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One of the ways of assessing how female-friendly a film is these days is by using the Bechdel Test. The criteria for it is relatively straightforward. It consists of three rules which must all be met for it to pass the test:-

  1. It has to have at least two [named] women in it…
  2. …Who talk to each other…
  3. …About something besides a man.

You’d be surprised how many films you think would fit this criteria actually don’t.

Obviously, the rules need to be taken with a pinch of salt. You need to consider the context of a film before completely judging it. If it’s a biopic based in a man’s prison, then it’s pretty good odds there won’t be a woman involved. However, if it’s a film where there are plenty of female characters milling around, but not being utilised properly and stereotyped, that’s where we’re going to hit a problem and I think it’s the issues in these sorts of films that need to be addressed.

I’ve taken a look at my own top five films to see if they would pass or fail the Bechdel Test…

  1. The Princess Bride – FAILED

There are only two named female characters in the whole film (Buttercup and Valerie) and they don’t get the chance to interact. I don’t really mind the character of Buttercup, but I do find her a little bit too helpless. And that scene with the ROUS always annoys me because she just stands there while Westley is getting attacked, when she could at least try to help.

2. Some Like it Hot – PASSED

Even if you’re not classing Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon as women in this, it still passes the test thanks to the scenes on the train. If you are, then it passes with flying colours!

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3. Life is Beautiful – FAILED

Again, very few named female characters in this. Though the heart of the story comes from the father-son relationship and Guido trying to protect his son in the concentration camp.

4. Lord of the Rings – FAILED

It fails over all three films. Granted, they were working off the original text and Tolkien doesn’t have a great number of female characters (in The Hobbit, Peter Jackson had to create a female character since there were none included in the book). Even though it fails the test, its redeeming factor is that the few named female characters are pretty bad-ass. Case and point, Eowyn’s battle with the Witch King.

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 5. Pan’s Labyrinth – PASSED

A lot of interaction between two female characters here (mother and daughter). Plus it’s a real plus that the central protagonist, Ofelia, is a very strong character, despite being so young.

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How do your own favourite films measure up against the test?

xoxo

Oscar 2015 Predictions

Sorry things have been a little bit quiet on the Awards Seasons front recently. All my writing time has been focused on my books, which meant I bypassed the BAFTAs completely. My very quick commentary on them is that I personally didn’t think there were any big surprises with the winners that evening, Stephen Fry was wonderful as per usual and having Chris Evans and Henry Cavill present an award together almost broke my television! Well played to the organisational team on that one!

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So tonight is the end of the season and we finish up on the peak of the awards mountain. The Oscars will take place later and by the time everyone will have woken up in the UK tomorrow morning, all the little statues will have been handed out. I think I’m more excited about Neil Patrick Harris presenting than the awards themselves because you know there are going to be some awesome musical numbers in there.

So my penultimate blog post on the Awards Season 2015 will be my predictions for tonight – hopefully I won’t get it too wrong!

Best Picture

This has become a two-horse race between Birdman and Boyhood now, with most of the awards this season being split, but I think Boyhood is just going to edge it and take the award home tonight.

Who I’d like to win – Selma, The Grand Budapest Hotel or Whiplash. I still haven’t seen Boyhood and I felt Birdman was pretty overrated. I enjoyed all the other nominees much, much more and think I would rather see one of them win it, especially one of the aforementioned three.

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Best Director

Another head to head between Boyhood and Birdman, although again, I think Boyhood will edge this. Richard Linklater will end up with the award – making a film over twelve years kind of works in your favour!

Who I’d like to win – Wed Anderson. I greatly enjoyed The Grand Budapest Hotel and thought everything about it was well done. Although I would have really liked to see Ava DuVernay (Selma) or Angelina Jolie (Unbroken) in this category. Partly to fly the flag for female directors and partly because they both did amazing jobs this year and deserved to be recognised.

Best Actor

I read an interesting article saying that the race between Eddie Redmayne and Michael Keaton might cause them to cancel each other out and Bradley Cooper could sweep in and steal the award. The important thing to remember is that he hasn’t been around for the other awards, so we can’t do any real comparisons. Though I thought it was a standout performance and Cooper’s best yet, I think the award will still (fully deservedly) go to Eddie Redmayne.

Who I’d like to win – Eddie Redmayne #TeamEddie!

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Best Actress

A strong category this year which is lovely to see, but it seems that if Julianne Moore doesn’t walk away with the Oscar, someone will have mucked up counting the votes!

Who I’d like to win – This is only on the basis that Still Alice hasn’t been released in the UK yet. I wouldn’t mind Rosamund Pike winning. She put in a fantastic performance for Gone Girl.

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Best Supporting Actor

As with the Best Actress award, think this one is a pretty safe bet. J.K Simmons looks like he’ll be taking an Oscar home later, which I’ve got no problem with at all. His performance was amazing, if not a little terrifying. The tension in the Rushing or Dragging scene makes it one of the standout of the film.

Who I’d like to win – If for some reason J.K Simmons doesn’t get it (which is highly unlikely), Mark Ruffalo is equally as deserving.

Best Supporting Actress

Everything points to this going to Patricia Arquette. Afraid I still can’t comment as I still haven’t seen Boyhood (sorry!)

Who I’d like to win – I really enjoyed both Laura Dern’s performance in Wild and Keira Knightley’s in The Imitation Game, so wouldn’t mind seeing either of those taking it.

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So that’s it. Those are my predictions for the big six awards. Now we just have to wait and see how right or wrong I was.

I’ll be back tomorrow with my final post to cover the winners, any potential surprises, NPH and the dresses!

xoxo

Why You Should Consider Joining a Writing Group – Megan Musgrove #Romance15

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I attended my first ever Writer’s Group just over a year ago after finding it purely by accident. It was held weekly at a lovely bistro in town, which is probably what won me over and persuaded me to enquire about attending. But just before my first meeting I started to feel nervous. What if I didn’t like the people? What if the people didn’t like me? What if they were all pretentious and looked down their noses at me because I enjoyed writing Chick-Lit (there’s still a bit of a stigma attached to that phrase)? All these worries were whirling around in my brain as I climbed the stairs to the room where the sessions took place.

Thankfully, all my worries were completely unfounded. It was then I met some of the loveliest people I have ever come across. A very eclectic mix of people who were very intelligent…

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Top 5 Literary Crushes

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Let’s face it, sometimes men in novels are better than men in real life. Sometimes they’re completely perfect – mainly because they’re written to be perfect. When you’re creating a desirable male protagonist, you can make him everything women generally find attractive in a man. Then you throw in a couple of issues they need to resolve to make them more human and enjoy reading how they overcome their problems (usually) thanks to the female protagonist. That’s pretty much the basic formula for a romance novel. And the fact that the majority of leading men are nothing less than 10-out-of-10 in bed also helps. The main problem is, they set very unrealistically high standards for real men. Basically, books ruin real men for us!

When you say literary crush, most people automatically think “Mr. Darcy”. Sadly, Mr. Darcy does not make my top five. It’s not because I don’t like him – P&P is one of my favourite books and I fell in love with him after Lizzy reads his letter explaining everything  just like every other sane female on the planet, but there’s a few literary creations that I’m won over by just that little bit more.

Here are my personal top five literary crushes (yes, I am perfectly aware they are fictional!). And just as a pre-warning, the list does contain SPOILER ALERTS to plot lines!

  1. Sirius Black

Harry Potter Series by J.K Rowling.

I was bitterly disappointed when Gary Oldman was cast in the films. Not because I have anything against him personally, I think he’s a very good actor, but he was not at all what I had been picturing in my head. Thankfully, I wasn’t alone in this because I was actually part of a Facebook group called “Sirius Black was so much hotter in my head”. I’m not even sure what it was about him, but Sirius Black became my Mr. Darcy at about the age of thirteen. Taking into consideration that he was supposed to be super-hot before he went to Azkaban, coupled with how loyal and brave he was in the books, he just won me over. Needless to say, I did not take that chapter in the Order of the Phoenix very well at all!

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  1. Ian Lennard, Viscount St. Clair

A Dangerous Lord by Sabrina Jeffries.

I had to include a Sabrina Jeffries in here. She writes such great male characters, I had a very hard time narrowing it down. I managed to shortlist it to Giles Masters, Jackson Pinter, Daniel Brennan, Lucas Winters and Diego Montalvo. It was tough, by Lord St. Clair managed to just nudge it, although I think I’d happily take any Sabrina Jeffries’ hero to be honest.

I think what helped him top the list was that Ian and Felicity are one of my favourite literary couples and he’s half-Spanish, so there’s just the touch of the exotic there.

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  1. Captain Harry Trent

Close to the Wind by Zana Bell.

From Choc Lit Publishing, Close to the Wind is an adventure on the high-seas, as the main characters head to New Zealand during the midst of its gold rush. The swoon-worthy sailor draws you in from the off-set and keeps you hooked as you try to work out the enigma that is Captain Trent – is he good or is he the bad guy? But the way he is constantly drawn to Georgiana is very endearing. He’s just one of those great, well-rounded characters.

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  1. Trick Matthews

Dirty Trick by Christine Bell.

I really love this book. From Entangled Print, it’s one I can happily pick up again and again. Trick is a great male lead because with this book, he’s fully aware he’s in love with Grace from the outset. It’s not one of those books where the male character finally works it out in the penultimate chapter. He spends most of the book trying to convince her that he is the right man for her…and trying to fix the messes he makes when he goes about it all the wrong way. I think it also helps that Trick is described as looking like the third Hemsworth brother.

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  1. Thomas Granger

For Better or Worse/Viva Las Vegas by Megan Musgrove.

 Ok, I’m cheating here ever so slightly by picking my own book but when I wrote the character of Tom, I added all the things found I attractive in a man into the melting pot to set about creating the type of man I found desirable. To be honest, I fell in love with him a little because I essentially put my perfect man down on paper. I made him tall, dark and handsome with a crooked smile and a playful sense of humour. I like to think I did a good job. My only problem now is trying to find him in real life!

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After taking a glance at my list, I certainly do have a type. The only one on the list without dark hair is Trick Matthews. Am I a cliché with the whole tall, dark and handsome thing? Forget it, I don’t actually care. That’s a cliché I don’t mind being!

So, what do you think? Am I way off the mark here with my top five? Who would you include in yours?