Monday, February 18, 2008

and the oscar goes to...

Every year, I eagerly await the Oscar ceremony and make a special point to see as many nominated films as I can prior to the big night. This year is no without further ado, I present the first annual Annals of Spacetime Oscar predictions!

Will win: Daniel Day-Lewis
Should win: Daniel Day-Lewis
An excellent field this year, but there's really only one complete standout, and that's Mr. Day-Lewis. Pretty much anything this guy touches becomes gold, and for good reason: He turns his juicy roles into extensions of his personality more than actor I can think of. Bravo.

Will win: Javier Bardem
Should win: Casey Affleck
I have issues with Javier Bardem's role appearing in the supporting category, for it could easily have been listed as a lead. That said, he'll walk away with the statue for his searing portrayal as a robotic mass murderer. It's a bit of a shame, though, since Casey Affleck deserves recognition for his nuanced performance as the disturbed killer of Jesse James.

Will win: Julie Christie
Should win: -NA-
I'm gonna refrain from suggesting a favorite here since I only saw two of the nominated performances (Linney and Page) and I don't think either one is or should be a contender. So far there has been buzz aplenty around Julie Christie for her portrayal of a woman with Alzheimer's, so I'm guessing she'll take the prize.

Will win: Saoirse Ronan
Should win: Tilda Swinton
I have a feeling the Academy may be looking to annoint a new child star... But while Ronan did give a nice performance as a prissy aspiring young writer, I'm pulling for Tilda Swinton. Swinton has had some meaty roles over the last few years, but none (that I've seen) has been as palpable as her nerve-racking portrayal of a corrupt business executive.

Will win: There Will Be Blood
Should win: The Assassination of Jesse James by the
Coward Robert Ford

Wow, this is a toughie. All five are deserving, all for different reasons. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly has probably the most unique shots, but I'm gonna go with The Assassination of Jesse James, which features breathtaking vistas of the wintery West captured in artistic, untraditional ways. I'm guessing There Will Be Blood will pull in the award, though.

Will win: Ratatouille
Should win: Ratatouille
I was a big fan of Marjane Sartrapi's Persepolis graphic novels, but I keep hearing the film version is actually pretty flat. (I have yet to see it, though, so I may yet change my mind!) However, I think it's obvious that this year's animation prize will go to Ratatouille, and deservedly so. Wonderful animations and a cute story. And it is the year of the rat, you know.

Will win: Paul-Thomas Anderson
Should win: Julian Schnabel
While I think P.T. Anderson is very much deserving for his vision of Upton Sinclair's (truly) muckraking Oil! I have to give props here to Julian Schnabel, for turning the improbable autobiography of a man paralyzed but for one blinking eye into a somewhat fantastical full-feature film. My only suggestion, though, Julian: Skip the U2!

Will win: There Will Be Blood
Should win: There Will Be Blood
This category is by no means a walkover; there are four excellent films in the running this year, plus a token "fan favorite." That nomination would of course be Juno, which was a cute flick but nothing more. Atonement was a devastating love story, and its execution was more than competent, but I just wasn't as compelled by the film as I thought I should be; for instance, some of the war scenes really dragged, which was my one major criticism of the book, too. Michael Clayton is probably the most gripping mind-bender of the bunch, but despite its all-star cast, hot-button political message, and fresh score, I have a feeling it won't win the Academy over. I think there will be some split over the two Westerns, but in the end, the powerful acting and intriguing story behind There Will Be Blood will and should prevail.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

green up your valentine's day

Valentine's Day—or, as one of my friends calls it, Singles Awareness Day—is fast approaching. As with any consumer holiday, an amazing amount of garbage will be generated this week and next, as drug stores chop prices to move their inventories (hello, Easter!). This afternoon I bought myself a tiny Russell Stover heart box and was amazed at how little candy there was for all that packaging! Fortunately, most of these boxes are recyclable, but as with water bottles and other beverage containers, the big battle is getting people to do it. I therefore urge you to discard only the plastic portion of your Valentine's candy—the rest can and should be sorted out with your paper and cardboard recycling!

By the way, there are a few other things you can do to make your Valentine's Day a little greener, starting with the flowers. If you're going to buy roses for your loved one, try to get organic! Ask your florist if they stock organic flowers—and if they don't, tell them you'd be more likely to buy from them if they did! If you're ordering online, you can definitely get organic flowers (as well as other natural and fair-trade gifts) from and FTD. Oh, and the website Save Our Environment has a few other suggestions for things like jewelry- and chocolate-buying in their eco-friendly Valentine's guide. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

hi, fashion

Okay, so most of the time I'm not the biggest fashion fiend as far as what I wear every day. But fashion week always brings out the fashionista in me! So with the tents up and the flash bulbs going off, I thought I'd rave about my favorites—and rant about the duds—of this fall preview season.

First we'll start with the disappointments: Perennial favorites Donna Karan, Vera Wang, and Calvin Klein left much to be desired for me. Karan's fall collection was certainly beautiful, but pretty much everything was in the 20s droopy flapper style - i.e. "everything falls." A few pieces worked, but mostly I felt like her dresses in particular were verging on the mumu look, which I'm not so into. Others made me feel like she was flipping through her grandmother's closet for inspration - which sometimes works, but not this time. Wang had really beautiful cuts, but I think some of her floral patterns were a little too much for me. That said, she did have a few excellent outfits, such as her yellow-and-black satin dress covered by a long, sheer brown jacket (right). I usually love Klein for his minimalist and classy-yet-original look, but this collection was one of the most boring I've seen. Among other things, the colors were all extremely muted—which in itself isn't bad, but when your designs are very basic (simple overcoats, strapped dresses with familiar lines) it just makes everything that much flatter. And frankly I don't think it helped that his models had their hair back with very little makeup. Hopefully these guys will pick it up for next season!

On the positive side, my two favorites this time around were Narciso Rodriguez (center) and Proenza Schouler (left). To be honest, even Rodriguez's collection was hit or miss for me, but his hits were amazing. The cuts were classy up and down the line, and while some of his colors bordered on the tawdry (bright peach, ultraviolet, shocking neon orange), his blacks and whites were generally sublime. Proenza Schoulder, which I hadn't known about before this year, was probably my favorite of the bunch. The collection from designers Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough focused on sheer silks, which they used in colors ranging from navy to shimmery gold to chartreuse. A few of the pieces were a little too over-the-top, reminding me of the worst of women's 70s fashion, but I'll give the Proenza team a pass for their occasional missteps. For one thing, they redeemed themselves with their wool coats, which elegantly mirrored the draping of the silks underneath.

Anyway, that's all for fall fashion week '08. You can check out slideshows of the collections at! &infin

Saturday, February 02, 2008

super days ahead

My second grade teacher had a habit of labeling most of the work I handed in with her signature smiley face and the word "Super!" or, on occasion, "Super Duper!" if I'd done a particularly good job. I'll be thinking of Mrs. Walsh these next few days as her exclamatory adjectives come to embody two of the most highly anticipated events of 2008: the Super Bowl, and Super Tuesday.

First, let's talk football. The NFL playoffs are really the only time I get "super excited" about professional football. The energy they come with is exactly what's missing from our tepid-by-comparison process for crowning the collegiate champion team. (See an earlier post for more of my thoughts on that.) This year, there's the added bonus of two equally compelling stories: the as-yet undefeated season of the New England Patriots and the inspirational story of the New York Giants, who went into the playoffs as heavy underdogs and have won three games in a row to get to their first Super Bowl in eight years. Of course, being a lifelong Giant fan, it's been fun listening to everyone get excited, especially our mayor, Mike Bloomberg, who's not only made a serious wager with the mayor of Boston, he's also symbolically renamed an Upper East Side bar, from "Brady's" to "Manning's." Anyway, it should be a good game, what with the Giants being the only team this season that really gave the Pats a run for their money. By the way, during halftime, skip Tom Petty and head on over to the Animal Planet channel, which will be airing their annual Puppy Bowl and Kitty Halftime Show.

The other half of the next few days' "super duo" is Super Tuesday, which holds intrigue of its own and, I dare say, may be a tad more important than the first "super" event. The Republican race is down to four candidates, although I'd be shocked if McCain and/or Romney don't force Huckabee and Paul out of the contest with strong showings. I think even Republicans would agree, though, that the more intriguing contest is the one on the Democractic side. I can't say I've ever remembered a primary quite as hotly contested as this one, so it'll be interesting to see whether Clinton or Obama will walk away with this thing this week or whether primary season will march on into the spring. I kind of hope things are settled relatively quickly, to be honest - I think the Dems are going to need to unite as quickly as possible in preparation for the upcoming battle in November. That said, the Annals of Spacetime blog proudly endorses Hillary Clinton for President! Don't worry, I won't be offended if we don't make it to the national endorsement lists...

Regardless of who wins in both contests, let's just hope the next three days live up to their "super" billings! It's funny, back in 2000 we had the same setup: the Giants were in the Super Bowl and Al Gore was later up for election against W. I remember thinking I'd be okay with the Giants losing the game as long as the Democrats won in November. Needless to say, my team ended up losing both hopefully we'll do a little better this time around!