Best Picture Nominees

I did it! I was able to see all the Best Picture nominees and there are still three weeks left until the big night. I've been seeing movies like a mad woman. Luckily I was able to watch all but Boyhood in the theater. I prefer to see them that way because I get easily distracted at home and know that I don't fully appreciate movies from my couch. By the way, I'm going to be on vacation on the night of the Academy Awards and probably won't be tuning in. Boo. Carrie is my travel partner this time around and she's not that into movies. Maybe I can convince her to order in, get some snacks, and have our own little Oscar party in the hotel room. Anyway, here are my reviews!


The Imitation Game I loved it. I don't know anyone who saw it that didn't love it. It was inspiring, emotional, and educational all at the same time. And though it was a drama, there was a fair amount of humor. Benedict Cumberbatch played Alan Turning so perfectly it made me wonder if it was even a stretch for him. I'm not a big fan of Keira Knightly, but she won me over with her performance. It was just a beautiful, heartbreaking movie.

Boyhood I wasn't able to see this one in the theater and I know that takes away from my movie watching experience, so I really tried to get in the zone when I watched it at home. Not a lot happened, but not a lot needed to happen. It was a raw, real look at an American family and a totally unique coming-of-age story. Except for Lorelei Linklater (Richard really took a gamble on his own daughter, didn't he?) the cast was great. I loved how music, books, politics, and other aspects of pop culture guided the movie along the way. 

American Sniper It has been pointed out over and over that the book and the movie don't show the same Chris Kyle, and that's ok with me. Almost all biopics leave out facts, stories, and character traits. I thought this movie was very watchable and engrossing, and Bradley Cooper was outstanding, but it didn't affect me half as much as recent war movies like The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty, or even Black Hawk Down. The scenes at home were harder for me to watch than the ones in Iraq. I wish more movies would draw attention to PTSD and the lives of our servicemembers and vets. Of course Chris Kyle is a hero, no one should question that, but as far as movie making goes, I don't think this one was on par with the rest of the nominees.

Birdman I had to think long and hard about this movie after I saw it. It was weird. I usually like weird, so I was surprised that reviewers were going crazy for it when I felt like I just didn't get it. I completely appreciate the process. Long takes seem ridiculously hard, but turned out to be so stunning (especially the scene in Times Square). The cast had tons of dialogue, which they all delivered expertly. (Except for Zach Galifianakis. He flubbed so many times, it irritated me.) It was sad and funny and so different than anything I'd ever seen. Technically speaking, it was an amazing accomplishment. I still don't know how I feel about it though... 

Selma So good, so powerful, so tragic, and so embarrassing, yet we're still dealing with some of this crap in 2015. Keep in mind, some facts for this biopic were also changed or left out, but don't let that stop you from watching. And don't think I mean "a boring story from a long time ago" either. This movie keeps you totally engaged and shows just how horrific the times were without gratuitous violence. The entire cast gave incredible performances. I'm still mad about the David Oyelowo Actor and Ava DuVernay Directing snubs.

Whiplash Easily my favorite movie of them all! And yes, it's a movie about college jazz band. I still can't get over how intense it was! Like, I had a stomachache and high blood pressure while watching it and my body hurt afterward from the anxiety. The movie was a roller coaster and it's unpredictability really surprised me. Or maybe I'm just dumb, because I didn't see a lot of things coming. I've always felt like Miles Teller was an actor to watch and this performance sealed that for me. He was amazing. But nothing beats J.K. Simmons. He deserves all the nominations and all the awards in all the land! He was scary good. Who knew drumming was so extreme?

The Grand Budapest Hotel I love everything Wes Anderson does. Everything. But this wasn't my favorite movie of his. The beginning was slow and it was a bit more depressing than most of his films, but there were many funny moments. It was pretty to look at, the cameos were perfect, and the acting (from characters big and small) was top-notch. Anderson's style is so quirky and awesome and only getting better with each film he makes. I'm so glad he's finally getting the recognition he deserves.

The Theory of Everything This biopic was inspiring and heartbreaking, like many other movies this year, but Eddie Redmayne just made the whole thing for me. His acting and physical transformation was insane. I was also surprised by Felicity Jones. I'd only ever seen her before in Like Crazy, which she was fine in, but this was on another level. Unfortunately, it's a pretty basic movie. Don't get me wrong, I loved it and feel like everyone should see it, but also that it only skimmed the surface of how hard their lives were. Still very beautiful and moving.

What do you think about the Best Picture nominees?
Which ones do you want to see? Which one is your favorite so far?
I love movies!

Four

Kelly, one of my favorite blog pals, did this questionnaire thing over at Turned Up To Eleven and tagged all her readers. I'm in a bit of a creative slump so I thought I'd play along.

4 NAMES THAT PEOPLE CALL ME
Christina
Mom
Babe
Wiener (Here is the explanation.)

4 JOBS I'VE HAD
(I have a short job history.)
Babysitter
Kindergarten co-teacher
TJ Maxxine (That's what we called ourselves.)
Criminal defense paralegal

4 MOVIES I'VE WATCHED MORE THAN ONCE
(I've seen at least a hundred movies more than once, but here are some favorites.)
Empire Records
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Grease
Speed

4 BOOKS I’D RECOMMEND
All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Bossypants by Tina Fey
The Diary of Young Girl by Anne Frank
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

4 PLACES I'VE LIVED
San Diego, CA (Navy brat)
Jacksonville, FL (Kindergarten)
Palm Bay, FL (Middle school)
Bellingham, WA (College)

4 PLACES I'VE BEEN
New York City
London
Paris
Rome

4 PLACES I’D RATHER BE RIGHT NOW
The Sundance Film Festival
Disneyland
Iceland
Reading a book on a beach, under an umbrella, with SPF 80, and a blended margarita (I'm a fun time!)

4 THINGS I DON’T EAT
Any and all seafood
Microwave popcorn (I used to live off it!)
Mayonnaise
Beets

4 OF MY FAVORITE FOODS
Eggs
Popcorn (Air popped only these days.)
Cereal
Cheese

4 TV SHOWS I LAST WATCHED
The Mindy Project
Parenthood
Vanderpump Rules
The Goldbergs

4 THINGS I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS YEAR
Vacations
Concerts (NKOTB, One Direction, Taylor Swift)
Local adventures with my little family
Simplifying

4 THINGS I’M ALWAYS SAYING
Leave each other alone!!! (To the kids, constantly.)
Ew
Oh man
Yikes
(Why am I a polite young man from Leave it to Beaver or My Three Sons?!)

And now I'm tagging all of you! Let me know if you play along so I can come by and read your answers!

Blogging Rut

I'm in a rut and have only posted once a week for the last four weeks. I just can't seem to get healthy! It started with a sinus infection the week before Christmas. Then I came down with a horrible respiratory infection on New Year's Eve. Exciting times, let me tell ya. I went to Urgent Care on Sunday because I was having such a hard time breathing. Turns out I have laryngitis from all the coughing. I got more Prednisone (my third round in five weeks!) and I'm sort of finally feeling better. Now I have tracheal dilation surgery tomorrow morning. My doc is going to try something new; AN INJECTION OF CORTISONE RIGHT INTO MY TRACHEA. I'm kinda freaking out about it, but here's hoping it actually helps. Not being able to breathe is tough.

On a positive note, there are some perks to being sick. Jacob cooks dinner (and breakfast on the weekends) and brings it to me in bed. He's a saint and I don't deserve him. He's paying my back by going on an upcoming snowboard trip though. And in the last three weeks I've read eleven books, cruised through five seasons of Friends on Netflix, and since the only thing I've been able to do (because it takes zero physical effort) is go to the movies, I've seen five.

But yeah, posting probably won't get any better for another few weeks because I've got to recover from surgery, then catch up on life. My house is a mess. Christmas toys still need new homes. Piles of old clothes and toys need to be taken to Goodwill. I need to cook instead of order in. Frankly, I just need to get out of bed a little more. I'm a hermit! Plus, I have a bunch of fun stuff next week to keep me busy. I have a musical to see, Milo's turning four, Jacob and I are going to see John Mulaney, and the Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl! So I won't be around here much, but if you miss me, I'm always on Twitter!

Latest NetGalley Reads

I have been all about NetGalley lately! They keep approving my requests, so I gotta keep up with reading them! Are you using it yet? Sign up for an account here, search through titles, request books for your e-reader, submit feedback, and share reviews on your blog. So fun and easy and best of all, FREE!


All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven So. Good. Finch constantly contemplates suicide and Violet is depressed after the death of her sister. They meet on top of the school's bell tower where they're both thinking about jumping, then get paired up for a school project that has them exploring the state of Indiana. This book has been compared to The Fault In Our Stars and Eleanor and Park and I totally agree, because it made me feel so much, but it's not a copycat story. It's original and intense and important, covering love, grief, and mental health. It took me about fifty pages to really get into it because I didn't understand Finch, but I soon fell completely in love with him and their story. And just like with the previously mentioned books, I bawled my eyes out. It's heartbreaking, but so, so great. I highly recommend it! 


Saving Grace by Jane Green Grace seems to have the perfect life as the wife of a famous author, but she's not exactly happy. Then her life gets turned upside-down when she hires a new house assistant. The plot is predictable and sort of like an upstate New York version of Single White Female. The story didn't go anywhere for the first 100 pages and I didn't really like Grace, so it took me a while to get into it. I also don't feel like any of the other characters were very developed. It was an easy, mindless read though, which is exactly what I was in the mood for. 


Has Anyone Seen My Pants? by Sarah Colonna I absolutely loved Sarah's first book, she was my favorite round table comedian on Chelsea Lately, and I've followed her on Twitter for years. She's so down to earth and very funny without being too mean. Plus, she's accessible. She tweets me back all the time! This book contains honest and hilarious stories about being single, dating, her friends and family, vacations, and doing stand-up. Although I don't relate to much of it anymore, I feel like we're old friends while reading her books. I get her. The last chapter, about beginning of her relationship with Jon Ryan, totally melted my heart. They are they cutest couple! 


The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion I didn't LOVE The Rosie Project, so wasn't super excited about this one, but I wanted to see where the story went. The setting and new characters were refreshing, but Rosie was a shell of a character, just a stereotypical hormonal pregnant woman. And Don was annoying, rather than endearing. There were so many unlikely situations, I constantly rolled my eyes. It was just too zany for me. 

I received these books from NetGalley for review purposes.

That Time I Went To The Movies Alone

Gasp!
But why?
Doesn't she have any friends?

Isn't it weird that seeing a movie in a theater is considered a social interaction when you can't even talk to the person you're with? But it is. When I was a kid, going to the movies as a family wasn't something we did very often, because even in the '80s, it was expensive for all five of us. But I remember seeing some of my favorites in the theater with them: Jurassic Park, Home Alone, Titanic. As a teenager, it was one of the few activities you could do without parents around. I remember getting huge groups of friends together in ninth grade to see The Good Son, Free Willy, Forrest Gump, Speed, and The Santa Clause. In high school it was the usual weekend date. My boyfriend and I would sneak into R-rated movies like Scream, The Craft, Sleepers, From Dusk Till Dawn, and Boogie Nights. Then in college, when there wasn't a party going on, the movie theater was where it was at. We saw all the late '90s classics: The Wedding Singer, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Bring It On, Romy and Michele's, Can't Hardly Wait, Varsity Blues, Jawbreaker, 10 Things I Hate About You, Go, Almost Famous, Final Destination, etc.

When I moved in with Jacob, we went to dinner and a movie every single Wednesday night. It was our standing date. Some may say it was boring and predictable, but I loved it. (Plus, we did other stuff on the weekends.) It lasted about four years, then babies happened. Since we still want a life and love to see comedians, concerts, games, and musicals, we have to save the babysitter for more exciting outings and movies became something I did more with my friends. So yeah, I could have asked any of them to go to a movie with me and I'm sure I would have found someone to make weekend plans with. But my free birthday ticket from our independent theater was expiring and Jacob took the kids to swimming lessons, so I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to go by myself.

When I was younger I used to think people at the theater alone didn't have any friends and was sooo embarrassed for them. When I got a little older, I felt sorry for people I saw out alone. I just assumed they didn't have anyone in their lives to spend time with and it made me sad. When Jacob used to work out of state, he'd often go out to eat alone. He was a young guy who didn't want to cook or hang out with the co-workers he saw all day, every day. When he'd call me at night and mention he ate on a bar stool of some local restaurant, it made me feel sorry for him. He never cared, so it shouldn't have bothered me either.

Now, as an adult, seeing someone out alone doesn't even faze me. And as a mom, I TOTALLY get it. I'm always craving alone time! I'm comfortable with myself, I know I have friends and family who care about me and that I could have made plans with any of them if I made an effort. But I was feeling like a loner and was kind of excited to just pick up and go. I caught an advanced screening of American Sniper* which was almost sold out, and seeing everyone coupled up didn't make me feel bad. I even got a (sympathetic?) smile from another solo moviegoer. I still prefer going with someone, because there really is a social aspect to seeing a movie. It would have been nice to have someone there to freak out with during the tense scenes and to discuss it with afterwards. But I definitely won't rule out going alone in the future.


*Full review coming soon. It was good and a little intense, but I cannot get over the fact that they used dolls instead of human babies in two short scenes. The first scene, with his son, may be hard for some to tell, but I noticed right off the bat. The second time around, with his daughter, was so completely obvious and even comical. Why did Clint Eastwood think that would fly?! It's unfortunate because it really took me out of the movie for a while.

Have you ever been to a move by yourself?