Archive for February, 2011

It’s my absolute favorite time of the year again – Oscar day! It used to actually fall right around my birthday when I was younger (I think the Oscars may have even been ON my birthday one year) and so I kind of like to think of the Oscars as a 3+ hour birthday present from Hollywood. I’m pretty sure that’s not too conceited…

My point is — I don’t care how “fussy” and “stuffy” and “boring” the Oscars are. I think they are a glamourous and entertaining tradition and I love them to bits. From opening monologue to In Memoriam, from costume and set awards to Best Picture, the Academy Awards are the best night on TV for me.

Even when it runs 30+ minutes over (maybe even because of it.)

I’m not sure how this whole James Franco/Anne Hathaway host thing is going to go, but I’ve heard that Anne is an amazing singer, so I’m hoping it’s a mix of Billy Crystal hysterics and Hugh Jackman’s opening number.

In terms of the awards themselves, I’m going to go out on a limb and announce who I think will (or should) win some of the big ones ahead of time, just for fun. I’m mostly just excited that I’ve seen most of the contenders for the first time in a while. Feel free to compare/argue your choices in the comments. I’m incredibly disappointed that I have to DVR the Oscars tonight and watch them tomorrow, but this is going to be my own personal little reference guide for when I do get to watch.

Here we go:

Best Actor: I think it will (rightfully) go to Colin Firth for the King’s Speech. I LOVE that movie, so I’m really excited about this one.

Best Actress: Natalie Portman. Though I’ve heard really good things about Annette Bening, so maybe there’ll be an upsest?

Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale. I normally really like him, and I think he brought the crazy-in-a-good-way to The Fighter. I ALSO really love Geoffrey Rush in King’s Speech though, so I’d be ok if he won instead.

Best Supporting Actress: I think it will be Melissa Leo for The Fighter, but I want it to be Helena Bonham Carter for King’s Speech. I also love Amy Adams though. This is a tough one!

Best Original Screenplay: I’m split, but I think it will be between King’s Speech and Inception.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Will/should: Social Network Want: Toy Story 3 (I really enjoyed Social Network, but I also LOVE the blend of elements in Toy Story 3, and thought it was incredibly well done)

Best Director: David Fincher for Social Network will win? But I wouldn’t mind Tom Hooper winning for King’s Speech.

Best Picture: I THINK it will be King’s Speech – it’s a should/want for me. Potential upset could be Social Network though, since it’s been winning a lot of other stuff.

and some of the more “obscure ones” just because I like them.

Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 3, since I don’t think it will take Best Picture. A close 2nd for me, and potential upset, could be How to Train Your Dragon.

Best Original Song: “I See the Light” from Tangled. Give ’em one, please! I also like the Country Strong song though. And I really have no idea which song has the most “buzz” right now

Best Original Score: I have no idea on the will/should front, and they are all VERY strong scores this year in my opinion. I want it to be How to Train Your Dragon though, if for no other reason than it gets stuck in my head the most.

Best Art Direction: (I love the way they typically present this award — showing concept art that fades into that scene in the film so you can see the process) This is Alice in Wonderland’s chance. I could see King’s Speech or Harry Potter getting it too, though.

Best Costume Design: (I love this one for the same reason as Art Direction) King’s Speech? (Oscar loves their period pieces) Could also be True Grit or Alice though.

I didn’t see any of the foreign films, shorts (live or animated) or documentaries so I can’t really speak to those…and I normally just COMPLETELY guess the VFX and sound awards because I can never figure out how they pick that one — if I ever get it right it’s because I’m a lucky duck.

So there you go! Happy Oscar Viewing everyone! It’s early Sunday morning here, but we only have a couple of more hours to go before red carpet pre-shows start!

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“Pullitzer and Hearst they think they got us, do they got us? No!” — Newsies


Be still my media-history-and-disney-musical-loving heart. The last major visit of our short Carmel trip before heading home was to a glorious place just north of Los Angeles (in San Simeon) called Hearst Castle.

There are ZEBRAS there (but we didn’t get to see any.)


They kept bears here in the heyday


Some of the wildlife still on property

More importantly Hearst Castle is the lifelong project of Mr. William Randolph Hearst — the newspaper/media mogul of the 20s-40s who was the real-life inspiration for the movie Citizen Kane.


Hearst Castle is also the inspiration for Xanadu in the movie.


Mr. Hearst is also the bad guy in the musical Newsies — the true life story of the Newsboys Strike of 1899 (in song!)


But back to the estate…

The castle is built on land that Hearst’s parents purchased in 1865 — his mother was completely against his plans to build a lavish home on the land. So he waited until she died and then did it anyway. Construction on the castle estate started in 1919…and continued for the next twenty-eight years until William Hearst got sick in 1947 and halted work on the grounds.


Everything behind us (waaaay in the distance) is part of the estate


According to our very informative tour guide, Mr. Hearst had a huge shopping addiction, which explained why there were SO many knickknacks (very expensive, one-of-a-kind knickknacks…) on the property. There were SO many gorgeous marble statues. His shopping was actually so out of control that he had to send his employees out to buy things for him — if an art seller or antique dealer knew it was Mr. Hearst looking for a piece, they would automatically TRIPLE their prices!


The entire property sits at the very top of a hill, and is absolutely drop-dead gorgeous. It consists of the main house Casa Grande:


Casa Grande


The main parlor -- and Charlie Chaplin hang out spot


This solid silver lamp belonged to Hearst's mother


A lot of European inspiration...


The formal dining room (seated 22!)


A fan of Heinz ketchup, I see.


Overstated opulence...and paper napkins


His personal movie theater



I've always wanted a chair like this


And three “smaller” (a relative term) guest houses:


Inside Casa del Sol -- the medium sized guest house


Lovely fashion choices of the time


GORGEOUS ceilings


Delicate details everywhere

There’s also an outdoor pool, and an indoor pool.


Neptune Pool


The tile of the indoor pool is made of pure gold.


The estate also has its own airfield, which was used by entertainment and political persons. Getting an invite to Hearst Castle could propel a Hollywood career to superstardom — frequent guests included Charlie Chaplin (whom guests nicknamed the court jester, he was there so often), the Marx Brothers and Clark Gable.

Hearst Castle is now a California State Park and a historic landmark, which is why large pieces of the property are open to tours.

We were on the entry level tour — it gives a great overview of the estate. I’m considering going back sometime between April and October for a garden tour since all the tours are so reasonably priced. It’s a really great place for film buffs and historians alike, and I highly recommend it if you’re in the area!

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Confession: I never went to preschool. I’m pretty sure I escaped unscathed from that little situation, since there were a TON of kids my age in my neighborhood growing up and therefore I was never without playmates my own age. Besides — instead of naptime and fingerpaints, my mom took me to the zoo, and the aquarium and the movies (and I may of occasionally taken a nap too, though I was apparently VERY anti-nap as a child.)

And I’m pretty sure that (and driving around wild African animals for 7 months…) made me a little bit in love with zoos and aquariums. So I was definitely excited that aside from some shopping/eating/wandering around Carmel, the other main thing we did up north was go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

On the way to the aquarium (it was about a mile walk from our hotel) we saw a preview of local marine life:



Their large outer-ocean exhibit was being refurbished, but we got there just in time for a Kelp Forest feeding session:



And there were LOTS of jellyfish:




And they had special exhibits on various seahorses, flamingoes and penguins.


A Sea Dragon


They get their pink coloring from the crustaceans they eat



Sleepy little guy



There was also a lot of information about the California coastline — including safe fishing practices and endangered habitats. It was somewhat smaller than I originally thought it would be, but it meant it was easy to get up close and personal with some of the marine life:

Overall, if you’re in the Carmel/Monterey Bay area, I definitely recommend going by if you have the time.


The Monterey Bay Aquarium

Next up: My Newsies/Citizen Kane obsession come to life!

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