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Pretty Little Liars recap: A dAngerous gAme (I got 99 questions and Red Coat easily makes up half of them)

First of all, sorry to anyone who follows my Glee recaps. I’m behind, but I plan to be caught up by the next new episode. Now, let’s get on to the totally bananas PLL season finale!

Previously on PLL: Dude, it’s the season finale. If you don’t know what happened, this is not the episode to start watching. Regardless, Spencer found out Toby’s part of A. Ezra has a kid and annoyingness ensued. Spencer found Toby’s dead body and completely lost her mind, so she ended up in Radley. It turned out that Toby might not be dead, but Spencer doesn’t believe it. The non-Radley girls broke into the morgue and did not find Toby’s body. Toby broke Spencer’s heart. A kidnapped Ezra’s son and left him at the creepiest puppet show ever. Park rangers found another dead body and believe it to be Toby. Aria tried to break up with Ezra, but he decided that didn’t really work for him. The previouslies end with a greatest hits montage of the shit that has happened to Spencer over the past year. Seriously, everything from snakes almost attacking her to getting trapped in her sauna. Girl’s had a rough time. It’s no wonder that she agreed to help out Mona. Yep, Spencer joined the A Team.

Spencer is home again. The other girls are waiting in her living room for her to come downstairs. They’re discussing whether Spencer will be good as new or still totally fucked up. Emily’s pretty upset about the fact that Toby’s dead. The girls are all dealing with that revelation. Spencer comes downstairs all dressed up and says that there’s no point to have hope in anything. She says they shouldn’t be sad because they lost Toby a long time ago. She goes on to comment about the fact she just got out of Radley and her parents set up an elaborate tea and crumpets spread as if nothing had happened. As someone who has had to deal with WASPs during times of grief, it’s so true. It’s as if they have no emotions. Hanna decides now is the perfect time to ask the question everyone has been wondering: what is the difference between a crumpet and an English muffin? Fortunately, Spencer has the answer. English muffins are baked goods and crumpets are griddlecakes. The girls all want to know how Spencer is doing. She says she’s better because she decided not to be a victim anymore. That’s not how it really works, but okay, hon. Spencer then hands out invitations to a big party her parents are throwing to show everyone Spencer is all better. She asks the girls to come and support her. They remind her they would do anything for her. She ominously says she’s counting on that.


Bechdel Week: Friday

Once again, sorry for the delay. I haven’t had a chance to watch my regular Friday line-up until just now, thanks to social obligations/marathoning Pretty Little Liars. So, my Friday line-up consists of just one show, Fringe.

Written by Graham Roland
Summary: A Fringe event is created by a member of the team as the rebellion reaches a new level of intensity.
Does this show pass the Bechdel test? Yes

Olivia (Anna Torv) and the always brilliant Nina Sharp (Blair Brown) reunite after years apart and briefly talk about how the recent loss of Olivia’s daughter Etta (Georgina Haig) has affected her. Olivia goes on (along with Walter and Astrid) to ask Nina for help in their plan to take down the Observers.

Unfortunately, one of the few times we actually see Olivia and Astrid (Jasika Nicole) interact is when they’re talking about Peter (Joshua Jackson) and how he is holding up following Etta’s death. Considering we rarely see these two characters interact, I wish they had talked about something else. I would have rather seen Olivia have that conversation with Walter (John Noble), but alas. We’ve also already established that Olivia is worried about Peter, so it wasn’t really vital to the plot.

Film Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

For a number of people in my generation, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is beloved literature. First published in 1999, it has become a classic young adult novel for the millennial generation. I remember first reading it in ninth grade because my friends said it was just fantastic. It was one of those books that you just had to read. Even though it was a young adult book, it’s really for older teenagers. I wish I had waited a couple years to read it. At the time I read it, I greatly enjoyed it, but I think I needed to be a bit more mature before I could fully comprehend how awesome it truly is.

Before seeing the film, I decided to revisit the novel. The story centers on a young man named Charlie. He is just starting his freshman year of high school. His best friend committed suicide and he basically has no one. The novel is told through a series of letters between Charlie an anonymous person he only ever refers to as “Dear Friend.” Based on the format of the novel, I was extremely worried at how it would translate to film. I didn’t want it to lose any of Charlie’s insight and I was struggling to see how they would convey everything in a screenplay.

My worries were for naught, though. In the hands of anyone else, this film would have probably been a terrible adaptation. However, the novel’s author, Stephen Chbosky, both wrote the screenplay and directed the film. The best book-to-movie adaptations are the ones where the author is involved in some way. This was an even better adaptation because Chbosky didn’t have to worry about anyone else’s vision. It was his story from beginning to end.

There are some variations from the novel, but they’re extremely slight. The biggest one would be that they didn’t focus as much on the relationship between Charlie (Logan Lerman, Percy Jackson & the Olympians) and his sister, Candace (Nina Dobrev, The Vampire Diaries). The abortion subplot is completely omitted, but it really didn’t detract from the story.

The thing I love the most about this story is that it doesn’t shy away from the tough things that adolescents experience, but it also doesn’t treat it like an after-school special. It is an honest portrayal of a young boy trying to navigate the world of high school. He has to go through the trauma of finding his place in the world. He eventually befriends the coolest group of people ever, becoming particularly close to Patrick (Ezra Miller, We Need to Talk About Kevin) and Sam (Emma Watson, Harry Potter series). He navigates his first relationship with Mary Elizabeth (Mae Whitman, Parenthood) while being in love with Sam.

The film touches on drug and alcohol use, teen dating violence, infidelity, homophobia, and childhood sexual abuse. However, it also embraces the mindblowing feeling of being young and feeling infinite. The characters literally describe themselves as feeling infinite. For me, this film captures a perfect moment in time. It captures that feeling of being young and having the world in front of you. That feeling that you have nothing but options and can do anything you set your mind to. It’s that joyous feeling of optimism. I feel like I was never more optimistic than I was when I was a senior in high school. For anyone who has forgotten that feeling and needs to be reminded of happier times, this film is perfect. I was in tears by the end of the film, but they were truly tears of joy.

New Series: Ben and Kate

Fox’s Ben & Kate is being billed as one of the best new sitcoms of the season. Based on creator Dana Fox’s real life relationship with her brother, critics are hailing the show as a quirky comedy about two dysfunctional siblings. In the show’s first outing, it largely lived up to the hype.

Dakota Johnson (The Five-Year Engagement) stars as Kate Fox, waitress and single mother to five-year-old Maddie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones, We Bought a Zoo). Every now and then, Kate’s brother Ben (Nat Faxon, The Descendants) blows into town and causes a bunch of trouble. He’s basically a giant manchild. Of course, as with most manchildren, they make for some really entertaining moments. This time, he comes back into town to break up the marriage of his ex-girlfriend who he still thinks of as Mrs. Ben Fox. Naturally, as she is an ex-girlfriend, this woman has moved on and Ben’s plans do not come to fruition.

While Ben is trying to break up this woman’s wedding, Kate is just trying to get laid. She has gone on approximately ten dates with a man named George (Jon Foster, Accidentally on Purpose). After ten dates, that means she finally gets to have sex, as per her rules. She accidentally dials Ben while on her date and after excusing herself to the restroom, Ben overhears a conversation between George and another woman. On his way to the wedding, he comes back to save his sister from getting her heart broken again.

The two siblings end up going to the wedding to try to stop it, but they are an hour late and Mrs. Ben Fox is now Mrs. Somebody Else. For some reason, they stay for the reception, but it leads to a really sweet moment between Ben and Kate where they hang out under a table, just like they did when they were younger and their parents would fight. This time, Maddie joins them and it’s adorable, naturally.

Echo Kellum (Hot in Cleveland) also stars as Tommy, one of Kate’s co-workers who is hopelessly in love with her. The fantastically hilarious comedienne Lucy Punch (Bad Teacher) plays BJ, a fellow waitress who just wants Kate to have some fun in her life. The ensemble cast is pretty much amazing. The chemistry between everyone is phenomenal. Even in the pilot, the actors and writers are nearing the perfect balance of endearing and hilarious. Jones is the perfect adorable child in this role. Ben and Kate have emotional baggage that makes them much more relatable. Faxon manages to be extremely endearing without going over the top, which would be very easy to do in this role.

Since Dana Fox is drawing on her own life experiences for this show and she has a ton of heart, I predict many more heartwarming and funny episodes from here on out. I always say a show needs five episodes before you can truly judge if it will succeed or fail. If the next four episodes are as strong as this pilot, this has potential to be the best new sitcom of the season (possibly tied with The Mindy Project).

Coming tomorrow: a belated review of The Mindy Project.

New Series: Revolution

So often, these big high-concept dramas try to introduce a million characters right off the bat. They try to establish every storyline they have planned for the season in the first episode. It leaves viewers confused and the plot jumbled. Fortunately, Revolution did things right in its pilot episode.

The plot centers on a post-apocalyptic future (approximately 2027). In 2012, all the lights went out. Seriously. All electricity ceased to work in any capacity. Governments broke up and various militias formed. Various villages were established and people have gone back to basic survival skills, such as hunting and gathering. There are several similarities with The Hunger Games, as far as the environment in which they live.

The writers for this show are absolutely phenomenal. Eric Kripke (of Supernatural fame) and JJ Abrams (of Lost, Alias, and tons of other awesome shows) helm this show. Kripke wrote the pilot episode and slowly rolled out the characters.

The show really centers on the Matheson family. Brothers Miles and Ben Matheson are at the center of everything. In 2012, Ben (Tim Guinee, The Good Wife) and his wife Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell, Lost) have a small daughter, Charlie. Then the lights go out and we see the happy family eating everything out of the freezer that is going to go bad. Sad fact: In the post-apocalyptic future, there is no ice cream because there are no freezers. It’s how you know it’s a bad world. Miles (Billy Burke, The Closer) is living in Chicago and appears to be some sort of military guy. Before the lights go out, Ben appears to know that it is coming and calls Miles to warn him that shit is about to go down. Ben has some sort of mysterious USB thingy that appears to hold all the world’s secrets. 

Flash forward to 15 years in the future. Rachel is apparently dead and Ben is now dating one of the town doctors, Maggie (Anna Lise Phillips, Terra Nova). Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos, Being Human) is all grown up and is now an awesome archer. Apparently bows are the weapon of the future. Thank you, Hunger Games! Charlie’s younger brother, Danny (Graham Rogers, Memphis Beat) fulfills the hotheaded guy who acts before he thinks requirement. When Capt. Tom Neville (Giancarlo Esposito, Once Upon a Time) shows up to arrest Ben and take him back to the mysterious Monroe, Danny draws his bow and tries to defend his dad. Naturally, it goes miserably and a huge fight ensues. Ben dies in the crossfire and Neville takes Danny to his leader. Just before he dies, though, Ben tells Charlie to go to Chicago and find Miles.

Charlie then sets out for Chicago with Maggie, who insists that she is coming along. Also coming is Aaron (apparently played by Zak Orth of NYC 22, but I totally thought it was the guy who plays Harry Crane on Mad Men). So, off go Charlie, Maggie, and Not Harry Crane. Along the way they meet up with a mysterious guy Nate (JD Pardo, Breaking Dawn), who is very pretty, so Charlie trusts him, especially after he saves the three of them from some totally creepy guys.

Eventually, the three make it to Chicago and wander into what used to be a really fancy hotel. Fortunately, Miles is making himself a drink at the counter in this exact hotel. He first denies that he is Miles, but then agrees to talk to Charlie because after all, she is his niece. He just wants them to leave him alone and maintains that he doesn’t know anything about why the lights went out. Eventually, militia shows up and shit hits the fan. As it turns out, Pretty Nate is actually one of Monroe’s minions and led them right to Miles. See, you can’t trust every pretty person you meet, Charlie. Miles eventually agrees to leave with Charlie and Maggie because he’s not safe in Chicago anymore. The Three Musketeers set off on their journey, to be continued next week.

Meanwhile, Danny is taken by Neville and eventually escapes by unscrewing a pipe to which he is chained and beating some people over the head. He runs off until his asthma stops him and he passes out in some stranger’s backyard. Fortunately, this stranger is former algebra teacher Grace (Maria Howell, The Vampire Diaries) whose son had asthma and she just happens to have an inhaler. She watches over him for a while, until Neville and his men show up. At first, she claims she hasn’t seen anyone in days. Unfortunately for her, Neville was the most badass insurance adjuster ever before the blackout and his job consisted of being able to tell when people are lying. I did not know this about insurance adjusters. He saw tracks from two people leading right to her back door. She steps aside and they head upstairs, just to see Danny trying to jump out the window. Considering his asthma seems to kick in when he takes more than five steps, I predict he wouldn’t be getting far anyway. So, Danny ends up back in the custody of Neville.

The episode ends with two surprise twists. First, kindly algebra teacher Grace still has a working computer (though it is legit old school with green writing on a black screen and everything). She plugs in a USB that matches the one that Ben had at the beginning of the episode and assures the person with whom she is chatting that the militia didn’t find anything when they came. Also, Monroe (David Lyons, The Cape) is apparently Miles’ buddy he was with on the day of the blackout.

Couple things I particularly enjoyed:

Every word that came out of Zak Orth’s mouth was pretty much hilarious. As he explained, before the blackout hit, he worked for “a company called Google.” Charlie’s response: “Isn’t that an Internet thing?” Also, as he explains the blackout, “physics went insane.”

Neville kind of came off as a cranky guy, which made me giggle. When he first found Ben, he just seemed irritated that Ben didn’t immediately come with him. Apparently, he had been away from his “wife, family, and bed” for quite some time. This guy must have the most comfortable bed ever.

Overall, it was a really strong pilot. It introduced just enough to intrigue the audience, but not so much as to overwhelm us. Between Kripke (who is a really solid writer) and Abrams (who, besides being awesome, knows how to manage a big ensemble show with muddling everything up), this series has definite potential. There were definitely a couple moments that had John screaming “BUT! PHYSICS!!!!” in frustration, but unless you’re a science geek like my fiance, you won’t really notice. Last night’s ratings were awesome and it had the highest-rated debut for an hour-long scripted drama since in 2010. Hopefully, this show won’t end up a colossal disappointment like V did.

Also, I call total bullshit on Rachel being dead. You don’t get as big an actress as Elizabeth Mitchell and kill her off in the first ten minutes. Not. Buying it.

Hello again, my old friends

I know, I know. I’ve updated this blog just a handful of times since August. I have no excuses, other than life got in the way. This time last year, I was two days away from leaving the US for the first time. I completely hated my major and was extremely pessimistic about what senior year of college would bring. Well, senior year has come and gone. I found new excitement for my chosen career, thanks to the best social work practicum and now job that I could never have imagined. I’ve walked across that stage and received my diploma (in 12-14 weeks, for now, I’ve got a really fancy folder that contains info about how to join the alumni association). I’ve watched my two best friends from college pack up and leave town for bigger and better things. Meanwhile, I stay here in Columbia, trying to figure out how to exist in a world without school.

That’s been the dream for years. I’ve talked forever about what I would do in a world without homework. In a world without the next paper deadline or final exam. Now, it’s here and I have no earthly idea what to do. Over the past seven years, there have only been two summers where I did not have any form of summer homework or summer classes. Even those two summers, though, I was looking ahead to reading lists and preparing for the upcoming semester. Call me a nerd or a teacher’s pet, but I always legitimately enjoyed school. Even when it stressed me out or was a dull subject, I enjoyed doing the work. My parents had me in Parents as Teachers from six months old and I started doing preschool-type classes at age three. Even before preschool, I wanted to play school and have homework assigned to me. I literally do not know how to exist without the possibility of schoolwork.

Since I walked across that stage nine days ago, I’ve been in this weird sort of shock. I go home from work every day and have nothing else to do with my time. I know the possibilities are endless. I have a whole stack of books I’ve been dying to read. I can bake random things. I have a Groupon for 10 yoga classes. I could finally learn how to play a song on my guitar. I could take up knitting. I could actually clean my room. I could do everything I have talked about doing for years. But every time I open a book or make plans to do something non-school-related, it just feels wrong. The days feel so long now. It’s like I feel lost, but not really. I have a very clear plan for things. I made random tasks for myself, but since I know there’s nothing riding on it, it just feels wrong to do it.

In time, I know, I’ll be longing for days where I have time to read for fun or find new hobbies. I know this seems like the silliest problem to have. It’s not even a problem. It’s a new reality. And I don’t know what to do with it.

Oscars liveblog!

7:21 Everyone’s talking about how grateful they are that Billy Crystal is the host this year. At least we’re not going to have another train wreck like the Hathaway-Franco hosting fiasco of 2011. *shudder* The ceremony is sure to be better this year because I don’t see how it could possibly get any worse…

7:24 Brian Grazer says there’s a Cirque du Soleil piece. Hmmm. I’ll be cautiously optimistic. I’d prefer they scrap the over-the-top, irrelevant musical number and let the Muppets sing their song.

7:30 Morgan Freeman?!?!!? It’s already better than last year! Lovely speech about how important the Oscars are to all of us.

7:31 Billy Crystal montage starts with him spoofing The Artist and refusing to host The Oscars. Then George Clooney kissing Billy to wake him up a la The Descendants. Moneyball spoof about how the writers are all old. Midnight in Paris with Billy getting into the car with Justin Bieber getting him the 18-24 demographic. Yeah, like Bieber even knows who Sammy Davis, Jr. is. And really, why does Billy Crystal think black face is a good idea in 2012? Billy eating Minny’s special chocolate pie from The Help. Bridesmaids diarrhea scene. Hugo scene about how it can’t be a Scorsese movie if no one’s gotten killed yet. Tom Cruise breaks into room and the film strip flies out the window. Ends with Billy flying through a series of scenes on a film strip asking if he should host or not.

7:36 Billy Crystal finally comes out on stage and we all gratefully applaud him for saving us from the horror that would have been an Eddie Murphy-hosted show. A couple jokes about Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close bomb, but we don’t even care. Calls the theater the “Chapter 11 Theater” and talks about how the Oscars breed resentment for lifetimes. References “Field of Dreams” and the way James Earl Jones said “baseball.”

7:38 Ooh, musical number! Ouch for the fat joke about Jonah Hill. Looks like Martin Scorsese brought some kids with him. Adorable. Not the greatest musical number, but it’s Billy Crystal, so it’s automatically better than last year.

7:41 Tom Hanks comes out to present Best Cinematography. Really, dude, you couldn’t have shaved? He points out a man who has been a seat filler for 59 years and is in a lovely powder blue tux. Cinematography goes to Hugo. The cinematographer looks a bit like Dumbledore’s younger hippie brother. He stops to thank Martin Scorsese. Definitely thought it was going to be Tree of Life. I’m thrilled to be wrong.

7:44 Hanks is back to give Best Art Direction. I might rage if this doesn’t go to Harry Potter. The franchise has never won an Oscar for anything and that’s just wrong. Well, only slightly raging. Hugo did have a truly beautiful set. And Dante Ferretti always does a good job. Harry Potter has 2 more chances to win tonight. If it goes away empty handed, then I will truly rage.

7:47 Close up on someone playing the drums in the balcony. Don’t really know what that was. Showed a flashback to Meryl Streep winning the Oscar in 1982 and said to stay tuned to see if she would win again tonight.

7:50 “Tonight, here at the Your Name Here Theater…” Crystal comes out to talk about how the movies have created special memories for everyone. Montage of various movies, including fucking Twilight. Destroy that footage, please. I don’t really know what this montage is supposed to be of, other than movies that have been released in the past 80 years. Is this supposed to distract us from the fact that the movies nominated this year weren’t very good?

7:53 Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez come out to present Best Costume Design. They introduce the nominees by talking about the individual costume designers rather than just running through the names. I like it. Award goes to The Artist. I’m 0-3 so far tonight. This is going to be bad. Wow.

7:56 Diaz and Lopez stick around for Best Makeup. So help me if Harry Potter doesn’t win this. Diaz and Lopez look over their shoulders and show us their butts as they give the award. It was as awkward as it sounds. The award disgustingly goes to The Iron Lady. Harry Potter will never be honored for its amazing make-up work. I’m about to rage. So absolutely disgusting.

8:00 Various actors talk about how movies were a huge part of their childhoods. Morgan Freeman’s first movie was King Kong. Brad Pitt really loved a movie called The Gargantuans. Adam Sandler saw Diamonds Are Forever when he was 5 and decided he wanted to be an actor. The announcer tells us that a baseball movie has never won Best Picture and Moneyball is the first one nominated since Field of Dreams in 1989. That seems kind of random. There aren’t necessarily a ton of really fantastic baseball movies. Didn’t really think of it as a separate genre, but okay.

8:05 Sandra Bullock comes out to present Best Foreign Language Film and presents the award in “Mandarin Chinese with a slight German accent.” Was definitely expecting more of a trainwreck, but she just presented it in German. Surprising no one, the award goes A Separation. It’s the first film from Iran to win this category. Director comes up to talk about how politics has destroyed Iran’s image and he wants to celebrate the rich Iranian culture. Nice speech. I liked it.

8:09 Billy Crystal makes a great slam against the Republican presidential nominees. Christian Bale comes out to present Best Supporting Actress as Billy reminds us to be careful if we’re in his eyeline. Surprising no one, Octavia Spencer wins for The Help. Her date has to lift her out of her seat. She is absolutely in shock. Standing ovation from everyone in the theater. She is in tears. I’m so happy for her right now. She just thanked the entire state of Alabama and all her various families. I love when they’re genuinely blown away by winning. It’s so much more satisfying.

8:18 Billy Crystal talks about how he wanted to hug the first Black woman he saw after walking out of The Help and it was about a 45-minute drive from Beverly Hills. Now, we’ve moved on to a brief history of the use of focus groups. We get to see a skit about a fake focus group for The Wizard of Oz featuring the cast of nearly every Christopher Guest movie ever. Fred Willard really loved the flying monkeys. Jennifer Coolidge doesn’t like how many ugly people were in it. For a show that’s already running long, that was pretty much unnecessary and not that funny.

8:22 Billy Crystal thanks everyone who was in his opening montage and the Christopher Guest skit. Tina Fey and Bradley Cooper come out to present Best Film Editing. Can Tina Fey please host next year? Pretty please? She presents every year and is always hilarious. So far, Cinematography is the only one where the nominees didn’t get more of an introduction than just their name. Editing goes to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Well-deserved win. Super happy about this one. The two editors talk about who all is missing from up there. They point out Rooney Mara as “the Roons,” which is freaking adorable.

8:25 Fey and Cooper stick around for Best Sound Editing. These nominees just get their names read. The winner is Hugo. Super happy about all the love for Hugo tonight. Totally didn’t expect it, but I’m super happy about it. One of the sound editors thanks everyone who was ever born or may be born. He says if he forgot anybody, then they know who they are.

8:27 Apparently, Tina and Bradley are presenting all the rest of the awards tonight. Next up is Best Sound Mixing. Expecting Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but Hugo is proving to be the big winner tonight and takes another one. Not going to complain about that at all. Very touching, short acceptance speech. They haven’t had to play anybody off yet. Kind of shocking.

8:34 Kermit and Miss Piggy are sitting in the balcony and banter about their first movie experience and how far away they are from the stage. They introduce Cirque du Soleil. Having the Muppets introduce this just reminds us all that they won’t let the Muppets sing Man or Muppet on the telecast. Harsh. Taking this opportunity to update my Oscar spreadsheet while people on wires fly around a stage. Their experience of going to the movies is much more active and seems like they’re on far more drugs than I am.

8:39 Billy Crystal says he pulled a hamstring just watching Cirque du Soleil and we’re one magician away from a bar mitzvah. Crystal points out Christopher Plummer and Max von Sydow and makes a couple of elderly person jokes. Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Downey, Jr. come out after Downey takes a chance to Tebow backstage and joke about how he’s filming a documentary called The Presenter. Really awkward banter. Can we just present the award already? Finally, they move on to present Best Documentary Feature to Undefeated. I was expecting it to be Paradise Lost 3. Interesting, but Mizzou connection, so yay! The producers/directors come up and apologize for calling their friend an idiot for saying they would be at the Oscars this year. First people to get played off and then just have the mic completely turned off.

8:44 Chris Rock comes out to present Best Animated Feature and talks about how people can play whatever character they want in animation. He then talks about how easy it is to work on an animated film as a voice actor. Moves on from his rant to give the award to Rango.

8:51 Billy Crystal bit with Melissa McCarthy. Not really that funny, unfortunately. Ben Stiller and Emma Stone come out to present Best Visual Effects. Emma Stone is acting like she’s kind of drunk. I kind of love her. Even though this is super awkward, I really love Emma Stone. Jonah Hill shuts down the possibility of dancing with Emma. Super funny. Last chance for Harry Potter to win an Oscar in any category. If my throat didn’t hurt, I would threaten to scream if it doesn’t win. I’m setting myself up for disappointment, though. And the Oscars continues to disappoint, even though I loved Hugo. Harry Potter will end its 11-year run with absolutely no Oscars. That’s absolutely atrocious. I’m just happy Rise of the Planet of the Apes didn’t win because I didn’t want to have to watch it.

8:57 Billy Crystal mentions Harry Potter and makes a Mitt Romney joke. At least someone will acknowledge that this amazing franchise ended this year.

8:58 Melissa Leo comes out to present Best Supporting Actor as photos of her from The Fighter are shown on the screen behind her. Did I miss them doing that for Christian Bale? It seemed to last a really long time for Leo. Best Supporting Actor goes to Christopher Plummer for Beginners. First ever win for Plummer and sets a record for oldest Oscar winner ever. Oh, Captain Von Trapp. He makes a joke about how the Oscar is only two years older than him and asks where he’s been all his life. Plummer thanks all his fellow nominees and everyone who worked on Beginners. He said he would gladly share his award if he had any decency, but he doesn’t. I haven’t seen Beginners yet, but I’m okay with Plummer winning this as a lifetime achievement award. He was in my favorite movie of all time and his daughter has the same name as me. He thanks his wife and says she deserves the Nobel Peace Prize. Really precious acceptance speech. Loved it.

9:03 Announcer asks if this will be Martin Scorsese’s year again. At this rate, I think it very well could be.

9:08 Billy Crystal makes a joke about how the average age of Oscar winners has now jumped up to 67. Now for a bit about how Billy Crystal can read the minds of people in the audience. Expected jokes about Pitt having a bazillion kids. Uggie (the dog from The Artist) is in the audience with a bowtie!!!!! So cute!

9:10 Academy president comes out to remind us that the Oscars is the highlight of everyone’s year. I don’t know about that. They randomly did a close-up of some random kid in the audience. He reminds us all how much we love the movies. Billy Crystal thanks him for whipping the crowd into a frenzy and calls him Mr. Excitement.

9:11 A giant thing of sheet music comes out of the bottom of the stage. For as long as that took, I was expecting someone to be standing on the bottom of it. But no. Penelope Cruz and Owen Wilson come out to present Best Original Score. Really hope blind people don’t want to know the names or movies associated with the nominees, because they’re just showing them on screen and not actually saying them. The winner is Ludovic Bource for The Artist. Please don’t let Kim Novak come out with another statement about how she feels like she was raped because he borrowed from Vertigo. I’ve already got enough problems with Billy Crystal’s randomly racist comments tonight. Ludovic Bource asks us to accept him because he has so much love to give. Adorable.

9:16 Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis come out in white tuxes with cymbals and bang them in Brad Pitt’s face before walking up on stage. They show both nominees for Best Original Song. The winner is Man or Muppet for The Muppets. Yay for a win for Flight of the Conchords. This almost makes up for the fact that they didn’t allow the Muppets to perform their song tonight. Okay, seriously, can they get someone to fix the mic pretty please? Jason Segel gives an impassioned round of applause when Bret McKenzie mentions Jim Henson. His love for the Muppets is so endearing.

9:20 We randomly see a bunch of women in stereotypical stewardess clothes handing out some popcorn. The announcer asks if Kristen Wiig will become the first SNL cast member to win an Oscar. Probably not, but we can dream.

9:24 Billy Crystal randomly asks why everyone in the front row doesn’t chip in to buy the Dodgers. He then completely flubs his introduction of Angelina Jolie and pretends to rewind himself. Jolie comes out to present Best Adapted Screenplay and take advantage of the slit in her dress by sticking her leg out and reminding us that she’s really freaking hot. The Oscar goes to The Descendants! Yay for Dean Pelton! Community love! Jim Rash stands on stage with his leg cocked out like Angelina Jolie was. Oh, Dean Pelton. You’re the best.

9:28 Angelina Jolie sticks around to present Best Original Screenplay. The award goes to Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris, surprising no one. As usual, Woody Allen didn’t show up for the ceremony, so no acceptance speech.

9:30 Lots of actors are interviewed about what makes a great movie. Morgan Freeman loves The Outlaw Josey Wales. Reese Witherspoon loves Overboard. Gabourey Sidibe really loved Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot. And now for more close-ups of the musicians who I really feel like I should know at this point. We watch a couple short film producers find out that they were nominated for an Oscar and are told to tune in to find out if they win. I guess this will make us care more about the short film categories?

9:37 Milla Jovovich comes out to make us care about the Scientific and Technical Achievement Oscars.

9:38 Billy, you’ve already got people pissed at you for racism tonight. Let’s not piss off the feminists, too. And can we talk about how Bridesmaids was much more than women pooping in a sink? Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph make some great references to film length and how long doesn’t necessarily equal satisfying. I really loved Bridesmaids, so I loved that intro. Best Live Action Short goes to The Shore. I actually somehow picked that one. Woohoo! Adorable father/daughter speech.

9:41 Rose Byrne and Melissa McCarthy present Best Documentary Short. Someone yells out Scorsese and they both pull out tiny glasses of alcohol to take a drink. Martin Scorsese looks confused. The Oscar goes to Saving Face. They pan to the very back of the auditorium where the winners are trying to make their way to the front. Apparently, “the Pakistani on stage” needs to speak. Can we just refer to her by name? That seemed weird. Just let her talk, especially since she has a really great message about having Pakistani women never give up on their dreams.

9:44 Ellie Kemper and the other Bridesmaid whose name I can’t remember present Best Animated Short and say that every nominee has the chance to live up to previous winner John Lasseter (who went on to create Pixar), but no pressure. The winner is The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. The winners describe themselves as “two swamp rats from Louisiana” and say the movies are part of their DNA. I love the winners from the smaller categories because they’re not jaded about everything yet. The guy in the fedora and glasses is SUPER excited.

9:46 Do these waitresses really have to wear such skimpy dresses? I’m not a fan. Is it really so hard to show respect for women?

9:50 Billy Crystal makes a joke about Michael Douglas occupying Wall Street before it was cool. Douglas comes out to present Best Director. An actor from each of the movies nominated is interviewed about how great the director is. Michel Hazanavicius wins for The Artist. I thought Scorsese might sneak in there and get it, but The Artist was really fantastic as well. Hazanavicius thanks Uggie the dog and says he’s not that good. Can Uggie host the Oscars next year, please? I’m totally cool with an adorable puppy hosting an awards show. No awkward banter, just adorableness.

9:55 Billy Crystal comes out and makes jokes about how Meryl Streep has been nominated so many times, but has only won twice. She comes out show a montage of the Governors Awards, which were given to Oprah, James Earl Jones, and Dick Smith (a make-up artist). Smith and Jones get honorary Oscars, while Oprah gets a humanitarian award. The three are in their own private box at the back of the theater and everyone turns around to applaud them.

10:03 Time for the In Memoriam montage. Apparently, there was one producer who Billy Crystal was super close to that died this year. Some woman with a giant ‘fro comes out to sing What a Wonderful World as the montage plays. Super classy In Memoriam montage. Loved it.

10:11 Various actors talk about how performing and acting is something they love. Jonah Hill explains why people who make movies are weird. De Niro talks about how people don’t understand the misery that people who make movies go through.

10:13 Natalie Portman comes out to present Best Actor. Rather than having five people on stage introducing each nominee and talking about how fantastic they are, Portman does it all. Portman reminds us that it’s Sirius Black’s first nomination. Guessing Harry Potter won’t be getting any love in this category, either. Dujardin takes it for The Artist. Was definitely expecting George Clooney to take it, but Dujardin was absolutely phenomenal. Dujardin gives a brief history of the first Oscar ceremony. Jean Dujardin’s wife is so happy for him and it’s absolutely adorable. He is so truly enthusiastic about winning. Love it.

10:23 Billy Crystal says they must be going nuts in France right now, “or whatever the French have in place of joy.” Colin Firth comes out to present Best Actress. Oh, Colin. I thought you and Meryl agreed to never mention Mamma Mia again. We had tried so hard to forget that ever happened. Meryl Streep wins for The Iron Lady. Look, I absolutely hated The Help, but Viola Davis did amazing in that movie. Just because Streep hasn’t won in a while, it doesn’t mean she’s automatically entitled to win. She’s an amazing actress, but it doesn’t mean she has to win every now and then.

10:32 Billy Crystal presents Tom Cruise who presents Best Picture. Apparently, his entire career “has been about making the impossible possible.” He gives a touching speech about why people love movies. I’d consider it a lot more endearing if it weren’t coming from Tom Cruise. Surprising no one, The Artist wins Best Picture of the Year. Uggie gets to come up on stage, too! That’s the best moment of the night for me. Thomas Langmann comes up to accept the award with everyone from the movie behind him. Well, it wouldn’t have been my pick, but I didn’t hate it. Langmann gives his award to Hazanavicius. Dude, he’s already got one, you get to keep yours. Hazanavicius gives a heartfelt thank you to his partner, Berenice Bejo. And that’s about it for tonight. Pretty much underwhelming, but the ceremony typically is. It’s the race to the Oscars that is more fun.