The Oscars are here….almost!

Well, it’s been a busy time here in Naples the last couple of weeks.  Between dealing with the Polar Vortex which took our temperatures down to a bone chilling 60 degrees or so (laugh now, my northern friends, but it’s no joke for the many snowbirds who did not bring warm clothing), watching helplessly as my golf balls are  carried away by blasts of arctic air, braving the hordes at local art shows, lining up for hot dog lunches at Costco with every other retired person in Naples, deciding which cardigan to wear, etc. it’s been a busy time. This past week, we managed to do a road trip to visit friends on Anna Maria Island (near Bradenton Beach), St. Pete Beach (near Tampa), and Indian Rocks Beach (north of Reddington Beach). Absolutely loved seeing a little more of Florida north of Naples and wonderful to connect with friends down here.

I still haven’t caught up with some of the films I hoped to watch before the Oscars. On tap for this weekend’s streaming are Citizen Four (about Edward Snowden, Best Documentary nomination), Two Days, One Night (French film starring Marion Cotillard, Best Actress nomination), Big Eyes (starring Amy Adams who apparently should have received an Oscar nomination, but didn’t), Force Majeure (a French film about the after effects of an avalanche which apparently should have received a Foreign Film nomination, but didn’t). For those of you who have Netflix, Virunga is an Netflix distributed film about the rangers rising their lives to save gorillas in Congo’s Virunga National Park and it is nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary.

This past week we did catch up with Still Alice, starring Julianne Moore who is nominated for Best Actress.  I loved the book this was based on and thought the movie adaptation was wonderful.  Julianne Moore is absolutely heartbreaking in the role of a woman dealing with early onset Alzheimer’s disease.  I can’t imagine that she won’t win (particularly as she has been nominated 4 times and never won before).  The Oscars often seem to right past wrongs in their award decisions.

We also watched Selma, which like The Butler from 2013, gave terrific insight into the history of the Civil Rights movement.  The lack of major nominations for Selma has raised controversy as apparently it’s the first time since 1998 that no actors of colour have been nominated. Apparently, a very pointed controversy has also arisen because of the less than flattering description of LB Johnson as an unenthusiastic supporter of the Civil Rights struggle.  Great film, but perhaps a little bit slow.  Wonderful performances.

On the TV scene, I am continuing to enjoy Empire, the series set behind the scenes at a hip hop recording empire, starring Terrence Howard.  The music is great (Timbaland is the creative consultant) and the storyline is based on King Lear, where the dying impresario (spoiler alert, he has ALS) must divide his kingdom among his three sons who wage war (with actual guns, as they sometimes do within the hip hop/rap recording community) with each other to emerge as the rightful heir.

Empire is actually reminiscent of Nashville (imitation being the sincerest form of flattery within the TV world) which I have continued to watch despite the enjoyably soapy turns its plot has taken.  Spoiler alert, Deacon has liver cancer and hasn’t told Rayna or his daughter.  OMG!

Still loving Grantchester (seen Sunday nights at 10 on PBS Masterpiece Mystery) about a hunky Anglican vicar with a knack for solving crimes; finished watching Season 1 of Mozart in the Jungle on Amazon Prime and I absolutely loved it, starring Gael Garcia Bernal as the maestro of a fictional NYC Symphony Orchestra with Malcolm Macdowell and Bernadette Peters as supporting players.  Very funny and full of wonderful symphonic music; Justified and The Americans continue to be worth watching (both seen in the US on FX).  Allegiance is the cheeky NBC series which has an awfully similar plot point to The Americans with sleeper cell Soviet spies in present day NYC responsible for turning their FBI analyst son into a double agent; Chicago Fire had some particularly maudlin episodes the past week or two, but you have to love the hunky firemen; Sleepy Hollow continues to delight with its fish out of water story as the Ichabod Crane character adjusts to 2015 society after having slept since the War of Independence – much fun is had regarding his reactions to cell phones, skinny pants, learning to drive a car, texting, etc.  He’s adorable as played by the dreamy Tom Mison;  I’ve been trying to keep up with Gotham (about the young Batman and his advisor Detective Gordon) as they continue to introduce the young versions of iconic characters from the Batman comics; still loving The Middle on ABC which has more heart than any other show on TV as it depicts a family struggling to make a living and raise their kids in incredibly difficult conditions, yet manages to make me laugh despite their troubles.

I have lost touch with some of the shows that are a little harder to find here in the US because we haven’t subscribed to particular cable channels:  for example, Banshee, which I love for the madness of its chaotically violent world; Shameless, which I love for the madness of its chaotically dysfunctional family; Black Sail, which I love for the madness of its completely insane world of pirates and literal cut-throats, etc.

I hope those of you who are planning to watch the Oscars enjoy yourselves thoroughly!!  This year’s host, Neil Patrick Harris, has done a wonderful job hosting the last few Tony Award shows, starred in Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway and has been the longtime star of How I Met Your Mother (which I have actually never watched).  I’m rooting for him to make the show as entertaining as possible. Enjoy yourselves whatever you choose to do on Sunday evening. I know many of you will be happily watching The Walking Dead (which I, of course will be recording), Downton Abbey, which I absolutely loved, etc.  To each, his or her own.  Vive la difference!!  Some of you may even be actually watching a film, reading books or listening to music and that’s fine too.

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