Sunday, 3 March 2019

February Favorites

I have always wanted to do a «monthly favorites» type of post on this blog, but I kept putting it off some reason or the other. Last year, though, I finally decided to do it. I will be doing one of these every month (or every two months) and I will include literally everything that I have loved or that has made me happy during that time, be it a film, a song, a book, a TV show or even an item of clothing. Here are my February favorites.

Favorite TV show: Skam France (2018-)
In December 2016, I came across a Norwegian TV show called Skam and I was obsessed with it for months afterwards. I loved every single thing about it, especially the third season. For those of you who have never heard of it, Skam is sort of like Skins (2007-2013), only less pretentious and a lot more realistic. It follows the life of a group of high school students, and each season it focuses on a different character. It deals with various topics, such as relationship difficulties, identity, homosexuality, sexual assault, religion, eating disorders and mental health issues. And more importantly, there are no stereotypes and each topic is handled with utter respect.

Anyway, thanks to the Internet, Skam became a worldwide phenomenon (and rightly so), to the point that several other European countries began making their own version of it. Now, I was really mad when I heard about all of these remakes. Skam is sacred to me, and the idea of someone tempering with it just made me furious. But then, I came across a clip of Skam France on YouTube (I talk more about this below) and I fell in love with it, and I just had to watch the whole thing. The original Skam will always be the best, but the French remake is genuinely really, really good. Give it a try, if you have the chance. Oh, but watch the original first.

Favorite couple: Lucas & Elliot from Skam France
The clip that I saw from Skam France (the one I mentioned above) was from the third season, which started in January, and it showed Lucas (that season's main character) playing piano to Elliot, the boy he likes. Before I knew it, I had fallen in love with these two characters and I just had to know more about them. So, I put aside my refusal to accept that my beloved Skam was being remade and I watched the whole thing. The first two seasons were very similar to the original show, but the third one is completely different. They took the basic storyline, but changed it enough to make it a completely different show. And that's why I love it so much. Isak & Even (the main characters in the third season of the original Skam) will always be Isak & Even, and they mean the absolute world to me, but Lucas & Elliot are giving me so much life right now and I love them dearly.

Favorite actor: Axel Auriant
The actor who plays Lucas in Skam France is called Axel Auriant and he is my hero right now. He's only 20 years old and already he's an outstanding actor. I dare to watch the last scene in episode 3x05 or the entire episode 3x06 and tell me that those aren't Oscar-worthy performances. He shows so much depth and emotion that it's almost like he IS Lucas and he's feeling exactly the same things that Lucas is feeling. It's really heartbreaking at times. Not to mention that he's got the most amazing smile, the bluest blue eyes and the softest hair you'll ever see in your life. And I love how close he is to Maxence Danet Fauvel, who plays Elliot.

And that's it. As you can see, my favorite everything this month was Skam France. I guess the lesson you can take from this is that, don't say you don't like something until you try it.

Monday, 4 February 2019

20 Interesting Facts About the Oscars

In anteciptation to the 91st Academy Awards ceremony, which will be held on February 24 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, I am writing a series of articles related to the most prestigious awards in the movie industry. To start things off, I bring you 20 interesting facts about the Oscars. Well, at least I think they are interesting.

#1: An X-rated winner 
Midnight Cowboy (1969), starring Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman, is the only X-rated film ever to win Best Picture. Producer John Hellman accepted the statuette at the 42nd Academy Awards ceremony, on April 7, 1970. Bonus fact: Midnight Cowboy was also the first gay-related movie to be named Best Picture.

#2: Posthumous nominations 
James Dean is the only performer to receive two posthumous nominations in the Best Actor category. The first one was for Elia Kazan's East of Eden (1955), at the 28th Academy Awards on March 21, 1956, and the second for George Stevens' Giant (1956) at the ceremony held a year later, on March 27, 1957.

#3: Reluctant winners 
Three people have refused an Oscar. The very first person to do so was Dudley Nichols, who won Best Adapted Screenplay for The Informer (1935). He actually boycotted the awards ceremony because of ongoing conflicts between the Academy and the Writers' Guild. George C. Scott won Best Actor for his performance in Patton (1970), but also rejected the honor, stating that the awards ceremony was a «two-hour meat parade.»

Perhaps the most notable of these reluctant winners is Marlon Brando, who refused the Oscar for Best Actor for his iconic performance as Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather (1972). Apparently, he turned down the statuette as a protest against the discrimination faced by Native Americans in Hollywood films. He sent Marie Cruz (known as Sacheen Littlefeather), an actress and activist for Native American rights, to decline the award in his place and deliver a speech raising awareness to the cause. She had planned to read a 15-page speech written by Brando himself, but was told she had only 60 seconds to speak or else she would be removed from the stage. During her speech, the audience was divided between boos and cheers. At the press conference, Littlefeather read the speech that Brando had prepared, and The New York Times published the full text the following day.

#4: Youngest and oldest winners 
Tatum O'Neal is the youngest Oscar winner (in a competitive category). She won Best Supporting Actress for Paper Moon (1973) at the 46th Academy Awards ceremony, on April 2, 1974. She was just ten years old at the time. In turn, James Ivory is the oldest Academy Award winner. At age 89, he received the statuette for Best Adapted Screenplay for Call Me by Your Name (2017) at the 90th ceremony, on March, 2018.

Bonus fact: If we consider both competitive and honorary Oscars, Shirley Temple is the actual youngest winner. At the age of six, she was presented with an Academy Juvenile Award at the 7th ceremony on February 27, 1935, «in grateful recognition of her outstanding contribution to screen entertainment during the year 1934.»

#5: Keeping it in the family
After winning Best Actress for Bob Fosse's Cabaret (1972), Liza Minnelli became the only Academy Award recipient whose parents were Oscar winners too. Her mother, Judy Garland, was bestowed with a special Academy Juvenile Award in 1939 for her «outstanding performance as a screen juvenile during the past year.» Her father, Vincente Minnelli, won Best Director for Gigi (1958) at the 31st ceremony on April 6, 1959.

#6: Power to the women
Kathryn Bigelow is the first woman in history to receive the Best Director award, for helming the war thriller The Hurt Locker (2009). She accomplished the feat at the 82nd Academy Awards ceremony, on March 7, 2010. Bonus fact: The Hurt Locker is also the first film by a female director to win Best Picture.

#7: A winner for playing a winner 
At the 77th Academy Awards ceremony held on February 27, 2005, Cate Blanchett was named Best Supporting Actress for her extraordinary performance as Katharine Hepburn in Martin Scorsese's biopic The Aviator (2004). This made her the first actress to win an Oscar for playing another Oscar recipient.

#8: The most nominated performer 
Meryl Streep holds the record for the most Academy Award nominations received by any actor (male or female), having been nominated a total of 21 times (seventeen for Best Actress and four for Best Supporting Actress). She has won three of those awards: Best Supporting Actress for Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), and Best Actress for both Sophie's Choice (1982) and The Iron Lady (2011). Bonus fact: Walt Disney is the most nominated person ever and also won more Oscars than anyone else. He was nominated for 59 awards, winning 22. 

#9: Sisters for the win
Joan Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland are the only siblings to have won lead acting awards, as well as the only pair of sisters to have Oscars. Fontaine won first, for Alfred Hitchcock's Suspicion (1941), and de Havilland won a few years later for Mitchell Leisen's To Each His Own (1946) and William Wyler's The Heiress (1949).

#10: Posthumous winners
Peter Finch and Heath Ledger are the only actors to be honored with an Oscar posthumously. Finch won Best Actor at the 49th Academy Awards ceremony, on March 28, 1977, for playing troubled news anchor Howard Beale in Network (1976). Ledger was named Best Supporting Actor for his legendary performance as The Joker in Chrisopher Nolan's The Dark Knight (2008) at the 81st ceremony, on February 22, 2009.

#11: Two winners, one role
Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro are the only actors to have received an Oscar for playing the same character, that of Vito Corleone in The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather Part II (1974), respectively. Brando won in the Best Actor category (as you know, he declined it), while De Niro won for Best Supporting Actor.

#12: The Big Five
So far, only three films have won in all of the «Big Five» categories: It Happened One Night (1934), One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) and The Silence of the Lambs (1991). The «Big Five» categories are: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Screenplay (original or adapted).

#13: Consecutive nominations
Marlon Brando holds the record for the most acting nominations in a row, with four consecutive nods for Best Actor early in his career: A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), Viva Zapata! (1952), Julius Caesar (1953) and On the Waterfront (1954), the latter of which he won (he did not decline that one).

#14: Life (almost) imitates art
Maggie Smith is the only person to win an Academy Award for playing a failed Oscar nominee, receiving the statuette for Best Supporting Actress for California Suite (1978) at the 51st ceremony on April 9, 1979. Meanwhile, Judy Garland missed out on a Best Actress award for playing Oscar winner Vicki Lester in A Star Is Born (1954). Groucho Marx was so outraged that he called it «the biggest robbery since Brinks.»

#15: A female winner for playing a man
Linda Hunt is the only actress to have received an Oscar for playing a character of the opposite sex. She won Best Supporting Actress for her role as a male dwarf photographer in Peter Weir's The Year Of Living Dangerously (1982), at the 56th Academy Awards ceremony held on April 9, 1984.

#16: The most successful films
The three most successful films in Academy Award history are Ben-Hur (1959), Titanic (1997) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), with each taking home 11 statuettes. Bonus fact #1: Along with All About Eve (1950) and La La Land (2016), Titanic has received the most nominations by single film, with a total of 14. Bonus fact #2: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King holds the record for the largest sweep in Oscar history, as it is the only film to have won every award for which it was nominated.

#17: The first African-American winners
Hattie McDaniel was the first African-American performer to win an Academy Award, when she was named Best Supporting Actress for her iconic role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind (1939). Because she was black, she and her escort were required to sit at a segregated table for two at the far wall of the Coconut Grove Restaurant of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, where the 12th Oscar ceremony took place on February 19, 1940.

Bonus fact: At the 36th Academy Awards held on April 13, 1964, Sidney Poitier became the first African-American to win the Oscar for Best Actor, for his influencial performance in Lilies of the Field (1963).

#18: Wins in a foreign language
Sophia Loren was the first actress to win an Oscar for a non-English-speaking performance. She received the statuette for Best Actress for Vittorio De Sica's Two Women (1961), performing in Italian. Loren was too nervous to attend the ceremony, so she stayed in Rome and Greer Garson accepted the award on her behalf. In turn, Robert De Niro was the first actor to win for performing in a language other than English. As we have seen, he was named Best Supporting Actor for playing young Vito Corleone in The Godfather Part II (1974), in which he spoke several Sicilian dialects (although he did deliver a few lines in English).

#19: All hail Queen Katharine
Katharine Hepburn holds the record for the most Academy Awards won by a single actor (male or female), taking home the statuette for Best Actress for four films: Morning Glory (1933), Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), The Lion in Winter (1968) and On Golden Pond (1981). She never once attended an Oscar ceremony to accept an award. She did, however, make an exclusive appearance at the 46th ceremony on April 2, 1974 to present the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award to MGM producer Lawrence Weingarten.

Bonus fact #1: Katharine Hepburn and Luise Rainer are the only actresses to have won two consecutive awards for Best Actress: Hepburn for Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) and The Lion in Winter (1968); Rainer for The Great Ziegfeld (1936) and The Good Earth (1937). Bonus fact #2: Two actors have won two consecutive Best Actor awards: Hepburn's longtime partner Spencer Tracy, for Captains Courageous (1937) and Boys Town (1938); and Tom Hanks, for Philadelphia (1993) and Forrest Gump (1994).

#20: British film invasion
Laurence Olivier's Hamlet (1948) was the first British film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, receiving the coveted statuette at the 21st Oscar ceremony on March 24, 1949. Bonus fact #1: Olivier received the award for Best Actor for the same film, making him the only actor to win an Oscar for a Shakespearean role. Bonus fact #2: Hamlet is the only film in which the leading actor has directed himself to an Oscar-winning performance.

And there you have it, folks 20 interesting facts about the Academy Awards.
I hope you had fun reading these and stay tuned for future Oscar-related articles.

Thursday, 31 January 2019

January Favorites

I have always wanted to do a «monthly favorites» type of post on this blog, but I kept putting it off some reason or the other. Last year, though, I finally decided to do it. I will be doing one of these every month (or every two months) and I will include literally everything that I have loved or that has made me happy during that time, be it a film, a song, a book, a TV show or even an item of clothing. Here are my January favorites.

Favorite film: Beautiful Boy (2018)
I fell madly in love with Timothée Chalamet after watching Call Me By Your Name (2017) last year, so I obviously very interested to see what he would do next. What he did next was Beautiful Boy and I was once again mesmerized by how brilliant he is as an actor. He puts his complete heart and soul into every role that he takes on and it's like he becomes that character and feels exactly what the character is feeling. In Beautiful Boy he plays a drug addict, which is not an easy role to tackle (especially when it is based on a real person) and he just put so much emotion into it. It's heartbreaking to watch, and sometimes you feel it's actually Timmy who's going through that. If you haven't seen Beautiful Boy, I strongly recommend you do. Not just for Timmy, but for the entire cast, which is amazing, especially Steve Carell. The script, direction and cinematography are excellent as well. And watch it until the very end, because during the credits you can hear Timmy read Charles Bukowski's poem «Let It Unfold You», and that might just one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard in my entire life.

Oh, and by the way, not presenting Timotheé Chalamet with a nomination for Best Supporting Actor for Beautiful Boy is one of the biggest mistakes in Academy history. You may quote me on that.

Favorite TV show: Queer Eye (2018-)
In the beginning of January, I came across this INCREDIBLY photo of Antoni Porowski on Instagram and I just had to find out who that Greek god was. Turns out, he's Polish, not Greek. (That's a really bad joke.) By the way, that entire phootshoot, which was done by Damon Baker for Attitude magazine, is like WOW! Anyway, I discovered that he was on a show called Queer Eye, which I had heard of, but had obviously never seen. So, I went on YouTube (as you do) and watched a few clips of the show and the next thing I knew, I had binge-watched the whole thing. I'm a little bit obsessed with it right now, and I CANNOT wait for season 3.

I love the Fab 5 so much! Antoni is one of single most attractive men I have ever seen in my entire life and I adore his smile. (Please tell me I'm not the only one who thinks he looks like Matt Bomer.) Tan should be on the cover of Vogue magazine like EVERY edition. I want to be BFFs with Bobby and Jonathan, and I literally wish I had Jonathan's hair. And Karamo and I are birthday twins. We were both born on November 2, which is shamazing. See, I'm already picking up the lingo. Antoni is my favorite of the Fab 5, but I'm genuinely in love with all of them right now. Some people might think that this is just a superficial show, but it's really not. They're not just changing these people's outside, their changing their inside as well. They're giving them a new perspective on life and helping them boost their confidence and realize their full potential. I wish they would do that for me.

Favorite song: «Timebomb» by Walk the Moon
Walk the Moon have been one of my favorite bands for a few years, and they released a new song about three weeks which I am obsessed with. It's such a catchy tune, and much like «Shut Up and Dance», I just want to get up and dance every time I hear «Timebomb». I hope they release a new album soon.

And that's it. Although it feels like January has gone on forever, I only have three favorites for this month.
What were some of the things you loved in January?

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Top 10 Favorite Films of the 1950s

Continuing with my top 10 (or top 20, if I cannot narrow it down to just 10) of my favorite films of each decade, today I bring you my top 10 favorite films of the 1950s. Please bear in mind that this my own personal opinion, which of course is limited to the films that I have thus far. Check out my favorites from the 1930s and 1940s.

#10Harvey (1950)
Directed by Henry Koster | Starring James Stewart, Josephine Hull, Peggy Dow, Charles Drake and Cecil Kellaway | Universal Pictures

James Stewart plays an eccentric middle-aged man named Elwood P. Dowd (that's probably one of the fanciest names I have ever heard), whose best friend is an invisible tall rabbit named Harvey. What's not to like?

Directed by Leo McCarey | Starring Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr, Richard Denning, Neva Patterson and Cathleen Nesbitt | 20th Century Fox

Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr are two strangers who fall madly in love on a cruise ship. They agree to meet again in six months' time, but she's gets struck by a car on the day of their rendezvous and is told by doctors that she will never walk again. It takes a while for Cary Grant to realize what's happened, but it's all good in the end. «If you can paint, I can walk. Anything can happen, don't you think?» Corny, I know, but wonderful.

#8Some Like It Hot (1959)
Directed by Billy Wilder | Starring Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Marilyn Monroe, Joe E. Brown, George Raft and Pat O'Brien | United Artists

Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon disguise themselves as women to hide from the Mafia. Tony Curtis ends up falling in love with Marilyn Monroe and Jack Lemmon earns the affection of Joe E. Brown. Joe E. Brown asks Jack Lemmon to marry him, but he refuses because he's a man. But that's okay, because nobody's perfect.

#7Rear Window (1954)
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock | Starring James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter, Wendell Corey and Raymond Burr | Paramount Pictures

James Stewart plays a voyeuristic photographer (some would call him a creep) who discovers that his neighbor killed his wife, but Grace Kelly and Thelma Ritter think he's going nuts. Turns out, he was right all along. Never doubt a man who spends his days spying on his neighbors through the lense of his camera.

#6Roman Holiday (1953)
Directed by William Wyler | Starring Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck, Eddie Albert, Hartley Power and Harcourt Williams | Paramount Pictures

Audrey Hepburn is an European princess who becomes infatuated with Gregory Peck (I mean, who wouldn't? Have you looked at him?) and experiences the joys of living for the first time. There's Vespa scooters, haircuts, pranks on Miss Hepburn and all kinds of frolicking in gorgeous 1950s Rome. There's Eddie Albert, too.

#5Sunset Boulevard (1950)
Directed by Billy Wilder | Starring William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim, Nancy Olson and Fred Clark | Paramount Pictures

William Holden is a struggling Hollywood writer who takes advantage of Gloria Swanson, a fading movie star, to advance his unsuccessful career. She eventually falls in love with him, but he couldn't care less about her. So, in the end Gloria Swanson kills William Holden and goes cuckoo afterwards. No, this is not a comedy.

Directed by John Huston | Starring Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr | 20th Century Fox

Robert Mitchum is a U.S. Marine who gets stranded on a beach in the South Pacific during World War II. Deborah Kerr plays a nun who happens to be stranded on the same beach. They get really infatuated with each other, but cannot consummate their love because she doesn't want to forsake her religious vows. The way I see it, if Robert Mitchum wants to get it on with you, you forsake your freakin' vows! Obviously, I mean no disrespect.

#3Born Yesterday (1950)
Directed by George Cukor | Starring William Holden, Judy Holliday, Broderick Crawford, Howard St. John and Frank Otto | Columbia Pictures

Judy Holliday is a brassy showgirl tied up to Broderick Crawford, a brutish crook who does not appreciate her. William Holden comes along and teaches her a thing or two about history and literature and politics and law, and she blossoms in front of our very eyes. She falls in love with William Holden, then tells Broderick Crawford to drop dead and lives happily ever after with her one true love. I love me a good rom-com.

#2Pillow Talk (1959)
Directed by Michael Gordon | Starring Doris Day, Rock Hudson, Tony Randall, Thelma Ritter and Nick Adams | Universal-International

Rock Hudson is a renowned playboy who tricks prim-and-proper Doris Day into falling in love with him by masquerading as a Texas rancher. She discovers his deception, but ends up falling into his arms anyway. I mean, it's Rock Hudson. Who in their right minds would say no to Rock Hudson? Exactly. No one.

#1Singin' in the Rain (1952)
Directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen | Starring Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O'Connor and Jean Hagen | Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Gene Kelly is a silent film superstar who begins a romance with aspiring actress Debbie Reynolds. Jean Hagen, his vain, conniving and shallow leading lady, becames blind with jealousy and tries to ruin their career. Don't worry, everything turns out just fine in the end. Oh, did I mention Gene Kelly is in it?

There you have it. These are (as of now) my top 10 favorite films of that wonderful decade that was the 1950s. What are some of your favorites movies of the '50s?

Sunday, 6 January 2019

December Favorites

I have always wanted to do a «monthly favorites» type of post on this blog, but I kept putting it off some reason or the other — until this year. I will be doing one of these every month (or every two months) and I will include literally everything that I have loved or that has made me happy during that time, be it a film, a song, a book, a TV show or a item of clothing. These are my December favorites.

Favorite film: A Star Is Born (2018)
I have been looking forward to watching this film ever since I saw the trailer for the first time months ago. I finally watched it yesterday and it was better than I thought. Honestly, it is such a beautiful film! The cast is flawless, the cinematography is stuning, the soundtrack is beautiful and Bradley Cooper did an amazing job directing. I've been a fan of his for years and I think Jackson Maine is his best performance yet. The scene when Jackson is at the rehabilitation center and apologizes to Ally for embarrassing her at the Grammys broke my heart. And when he says to his brother Bobby, «It wasn't dad I idolized, it was you» almost made me cry. I know the nominations haven't been announced yet, but if Bradley Cooper wins the Oscar for Best Actor, I'll be a happy girl.

I was also really impressed with Lady GaGa. I'm not a huge fan of hers, but she's absolutely stunning as Ally. She's looks beautiful with brown hair and no makeup. And her voice is definitely one of the best female voices of all time. I'd say she has a pretty good chance of winning the Oscar for Best Actress.

Favorite TV show: Outlander (2015-)
Outlander is one of my favorite shows and I think season 4 has been my favorite so far. I was unsure at first about it taking place in America, but honestly, this season is SO GOOD! Part of why I love so much is Roger & Brianna. I really like them together (even though Brianna gets on my nerves a little bit sometimes) and I am slightly in love with Richard Rankin, who has the most amazing Scottish accent ever. I still love Jamie & Claire (OBVIOUSLY), but I'm more interested in Roger at the moment.

Favorite album: A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships by The 1975

Oh man, this album! This album is everything! I love the previous two albums by The 1975, but ABIIOR is without a doubt their best one yet. I honestly don't have the words to describe how incredibly good it is, so go listen to it for yourself. You will not regret it, I can promise you that. My favorite songs are «Love It If We Made It», «Sincerity is Scary» and «Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)».

Favorite person: Matty Healy
I love this man so much! He honestly means the absolute world to me. In December, because of the new album, I fell in love with him all over again. And it's so nice to see him happy and healthy.

Favorite random thing: Joe Sugg and Dianne Buswell performing
the Viennese Waltz on Strictly Come Dancing
I don't watch Strictly Come Dancing, but I really like Joe Sugg and I was interested to see how he would do on a dancing show. I watched all of his dances and let me tell you — he is actually a fairly good dancer. My favorite one was definitely the Viennese Waltz, which he performed on the semi-finals. I must have watched it probably about ten times by now. He and Dianne were so in synch and the way they looked at each other was simply magical. And guess what? They are dating now! I'm so happy for them! She's lovely and they seem to be genuinely in love with each other.

And that's it! These are the things that I have loved the most throughout December.
What are some of your favorite things right now?