OscarPass Day Two

Black Panther:

How to watch: It’s on Netflix.

My thoughts: This is the second time I’ve seen this movie (the first was when I was doing OscarPass last year!) and it has really held up. It’s my favorite Marvel movie and I liked it even better this time. I’m sure everyone’s seen it by now, so there’s not much to say. I don’t think it’ll win Best Picture…but if there’s a shocking winner, I hope that it’s this one.

Ranking in terms of quality:

1) The Favourite

2) Black Panther

3)  Roma

Ranking in terms of my preference:

1) Black Panther

2) The Favourite

3) Roma

 

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OscarPass Day One

Monday, I watched The Favourite and Roma.

The Favourite:

How to watch: Some theaters may have re-released it ahead of the Oscars; otherwise, you’ll have to buy it on streaming.

My thoughts: This is the Heathers/Dangerous Liaisons mashup I didn’t know I needed. I love absolutely everything about this movie, and it is an actual delight. I hope that Glenn Close and Regina King win the acting Oscars this year, but if they go to someone else, I hope that it’s to the women from The Favourite. (I think Emma Stone should win over Rachel Weisz, but both women did amazing jobs.) I expected to enjoy it but it was much better than I was even expecting.

Roma:

How to watch: It’s on Netflix.

My thoughts: I tried very hard to like this movie and I couldn’t do it. There are plenty of movies I love that are foreign films or in black and white or are deliberately paced or have a cast that is either entirely or mostly horrible people. It’s not any of that, I don’t think. It just didn’t work for me at all. And honestly, I can’t think of another movie that I absolutely hated the way I hate Roma.

Ranking in terms of quality:

1) The Favourite

2) Roma

Ranking in terms of my preference:

1) The Favourite

2) Roma

 

Oscars 2019: Best Documentary

As usual, five movies were nominated for Best Documentary: Free Solo, Hale County This Morning, This Evening, Minding the Gap, Of Fathers and Sons and RBG. I haven’t seen any of them before.

Free Solo:

How to watch: This is the only one you’ll have to pay to see; you can buy it on Amazon, Vudu, iTunes or wherever you stream your movies.

My thoughts: I am really not good with heights which means that the end of this movie gave me an actual panic attack. (I would’ve had to leave if I saw it in the theater; as it was, I had to keep pausing for a few minutes.) This is a fascinating story and an intense one. I think it will win the Oscar and I am fine with that.

Hale County This Morning, This Evening:

How to watch: It’s available on PBS; I added the channel to my Roku and watched. You don’t need to have any sort of cable subscription.

My thoughts:  This isn’t like any other documentary I’ve seen. It’s more of a slice of life and series of vignettes, though we do follow the same people. It’s about a black community in Hale County (Alabama) and it is interesting and also hard to watch. Also (and this is a spoiler but I wish I had been warned) a baby dies of SIDS and we have no reason to suspect it’s coming whatsoever. I don’t think this one will win, and that makes me sad. I don’t know that I think that it’s the best of the five, but it’s definitely the one that took the most risks.

Minding the Gap:

How to watch: It’s on Hulu.

My thoughts: If you had told me this morning that I would love a documentary about guys who skateboard, I would have laughed in your face. Of course there’s a lot more going on than that (generational trauma, domestic violence, racism, poverty) and it’s impossible not to care about these guys (and Nina and Elliott, the girlfriend and son of Zack, one of the featured men). This caught me off guard and, while I don’t think it’ll win the Oscar, I think it definitely should.

Of Fathers and Sons:

How to watch: You can stream for free on Kanopy; you only need a library card to access.

My thoughts: I knew going in that a documentary about a man who is raising his children to want sharia law was going to be hard to watch. That’s a complete understatement, as it turns out. This is very well done and is as disconcerting as it should be, but this was too much for me. I’m very glad I saw it, though.

RBG:

How to watch: It’s on Hulu.

My thoughts: I fully expected to love this movie, and I did. She’s one of only a handful of people who has actually changed history and I don’t think any of us can overstate her importance. At the same time, this documentary shows a more personal side to her and everything about it is amazing.

Ranking them in terms of quality:

1) Free Solo

2) Minding the Gap

3) RBG

4) Of Fathers and Sons

5) Hale County This Morning, This Evening

Ranking them in terms of my preference:

1) Minding the Gap

2) RBG

3) Free Solo

4) Hale County This Morning, This Evening

5) Of Fathers and Sons

Good Enough

Finished Good Enough by Jen Petro-Roy. I received a copy for review. This originally ran last summer, when I originally read it.

I loved Jen’s debut novel, PS I Miss You, and so I was waiting for this with no small amount of impatience. I’m only mildly ashamed to admit that once I knew that egalleys were a thing, I basically pouted and whined and used emojis as a weapon. I didn’t mean to read this in one afternoon. I wanted to savor it, because Jen’s writing is gorgeous.

But I immediately loved Riley and I worried about her. I worried about whether she’d be able to have a healthy relationship with food and if she’d be able to talk to her family about her feelings, if they’d listen to just keep assigning blame and ignoring her feelings.

I had to know what would happen next, and each page made me completely feel for her. (A lot of feelings–sadness, sometimes anger, always pride.)

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Jen Petro-Roy is this generation’s Judy Blume. She’s talking about hard topics, things parents may not feel their kids are ready to know about. But Jen’s not writing for the parents. She’s writing for the kids, and she’s telling them the best, most important message ever: you will be OK. You are enough, just as you are. You aren’t alone. You can do this. Whatever “this” you’re struggling with, you can beat it. You will be OK.

It’s something we all need to hear, but kids especially.

Highly, highly recommended.

Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee

Finished Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zentner. I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

A contemporary novel about two best friends who must make tough decisions about their futures–and the TV show they host–in their senior year of high school.

Every Friday night, best friends Delia and Josie become Rayne Ravenscroft and Delilah Darkwood, hosts of the campy creature feature show Midnite Matinee on the local cable station TV Six.

But with the end of senior year quickly approaching, the girls face tough decisions about their futures. Josie has been dreading graduation, as she tries to decide whether to leave for a big university and chase her dream career in mainstream TV. And Lawson, one of the show’s guest performers, a talented MMA fighter with weaknesses for pancakes, fantasy novels, and Josie, is making her tough decision even harder.

Scary movies are the last connection Delia has to her dad, who abandoned the family years ago. If Midnite Matinee becomes a hit, maybe he’ll see it and want to be a part of her life again. And maybe Josie will stay with the show instead of leaving her behind, too.

As the tug-of-war between growing up and growing apart tests the bonds of their friendship, Josie and Delia start to realize that an uncertain future can be both monstrous…and momentous.”

I was so excited because I thought for sure that this would be a lot lighter than Jeff Zentner’s first two books. Well, joke’s on me, because it’s about a girl who loves horror movies because she watched them with her dad and he’s no longer part of her life. Which, hello, it me. (And for the record, my dad just died; he wasn’t a jerk like Delia’s dad.) Either way, it hit me right in the feelings and there were a lot of tears.

But there’s also a lot in this book that made me laugh. I loved everything about it, and it probably is my favorite of his novels. (The others are tied for second place.)

I loved Josie and Delia and I loved their show. It makes me want to start watching public access or even start my own goofy show. (I won’t do it; I do not at all have the nerve.)

Everything about this book is sweet and lovely, even the parts that made me ugly cry. Highly recommended.

Weekend Update

Welcome to the weekend before the Oscars! I’m going to spend most nights this week seeing Best Picture nominees; so far, I’ve only seen Black Panther and BlacKkKlansman.

I’m currently reading the new Jeff Zentner and it’s amazing! It may end up being my favorite of his and that’s the highest praise I can give.

AND I just started listening to a new true crime podcast, RedHanded. It’s similar to My Favorite Murder (crime! Banter!) but they research better and there’s some overlap but not much.

Meanwhile, I keep feeling like I’m coming down with something. I may see Happy Death Day 2U but I am going to focus on sleep.

The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried

Finished The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried by Shaun David Hutchinson. I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

A good friend will bury your body, a best friend will dig you back up.

Dino doesn’t mind spending time with the dead. His parents own a funeral home, and death is literally the family business. He’s just not used to them talking back. Until Dino’s ex-best friend July dies suddenly—and then comes back to life. Except not exactly. Somehow July is not quite alive, and not quite dead.

As Dino and July attempt to figure out what’s happening, they must also confront why and how their friendship ended so badly, and what they have left to understand about themselves, each other, and all those grand mysteries of life.”

I love Shaun David Hutchinson’s books so much! They’ve all got an aspect of the paranormal to them, but they’re also very much contemporary YA. They deal with breakups and friendships ending; they remind me of my beloved Buffy with the way that aliens and zombies work as almost metaphors for the more mundane monsters we deal with every day.

This one is my favorite, I think; I love Dino and July’s friendship. Even though they’re definitely not close anymore, they’ve still got this shorthand and they’re still very much connected, even though they haven’t been friends in a while.

That also broke my heart—I can’t imagine losing my best friend and I also can’t imagine us not talking all the time.

I love everything about this book. I cried a little but I also laughed a lot (there is humor and it is dark). I cannot recommend this strongly enough.

The Art of Losing

Finished The Art of Losing by Lizzy Mason. I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“On one terrible night, 17-year-old Harley Langston’s life changes forever. At a party she discovers her younger sister, Audrey, hooking up with her boyfriend, Mike—and she abandons them both in a rage. When Mike drunkenly attempts to drive Audrey home, he crashes and Audrey ends up in a coma. Now Harley is left with guilt, grief, pain and the undeniable truth that her ex-boyfriend (who is relatively unscathed) has a drinking problem. So it’s a surprise that she finds herself reconnecting with Raf, a neighbor and childhood friend who’s recently out of rehab and still wrestling with his own demons. At first Harley doesn’t want to get too close to him. But as Audrey awakens and slowly recovers, Raf starts to show Harley a path forward that she never would have believed possible—one guided by honesty, forgiveness, and redemption.”

This was one of my most anticipated reads of 2019 (I’ve heard nothing but great things!) and I wasn’t disappointed.

I loved Harley so much and I felt so awful for her—she loves her younger sister and they’ve always been really close, but the night of Audrey’s near-fatal accident, she also made out with Harley’s boyfriend. She (a) nearly died and (b) didn’t remember any of it, so Harley knew it wasn’t fair to still be angry about it (and most of her anger was aimed at Mike, anyway). But even though it wasn’t fair, it’s very, very human and I think anyone could understand why she did still carry a fair bit of resentment toward her sister.

And oh wow, I loved Raf so much. He’s a total sweetheart and he’s so young to be fighting a battle like addiction. He and Harley are so good for each other, even though it’s really the absolute worst time for them to be together.

Everything about this book is amazing. It’s hard to believe that Lizzy Mason is a debut author, but she’s off to a great start. I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Highly recommended.

The Kiss Quotient

Finished The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang.

Summary (from Goodreads):

A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there’s not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases — a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice — with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan — from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he’s making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…”

I don’t read that many romance novels, but I really enjoyed this one. (I picked it up after hearing a lot of friends talk about how good it is, and it makes me want to read them more often.)

I really liked Stella, although she’s a little prickly. It’s not on purpose, but she doesn’t really do well in social situations, because she tends to say the wrong thing. And when I say that, I mean that she says the most wrong thing that’s possible in any given situation. She doesn’t make a few tiny errors; she tends to leave people in tears or furious. (Now granted, we really only saw it one time in here, but I’m pretty sure it happened on the regular.)

This is a completely delightful book and I can’t wait for her second novel (out in May). Recommended.

Two Can Keep a Secret

Finished Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery’s never been there, but she’s heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows.

The town is picture-perfect, but it’s hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone’s declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing.

Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she’s in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous–and most people aren’t good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it’s safest to keep your secrets to yourself.”

This book is basically perfect for me. Its main character (Ellery) is a true crime junkie and is drawn into an actual mystery that may or may not be connected to herself and to her family. There are plenty of sketchy characters and a lot of red herrings. It’s one of the most fun books ever.

And like with her first book, One of Us is Lying, it is nearly impossible to stop reading once you start.

This is a completely fun experience and, even if you call some twists, you won’t get them all. If you need something to distract you or keep you company on a plane ride, this is for you.