Bridge of Spies

Only 12 days to go until the Oscars! Here’s this week’s look at the nominated films, starting with a Cold War spy story.

Not to sound like a young Dawson Leery, but Spielberg is still a master, even if everything about this film felt like it was from a by-gone era of filmmaking. Bridge of Spies is up for six awards: Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Mark Rylance, Original Score, Production Design, Sound Mixing, and Original Screenplay. When I think of Steven Spielberg films, I think of hope and warmth, and those elements were definitely there. He also knows how to use a film score, so it’s no surprise that one of the nominations is for that category. And three-time Tony winner Mark Rylance gives a stand out performance among a cast of greats, but I felt that the film did drag a little in several sections and got a bit too wordy. (There were captivating negotiation scenes, and then there were tedious negotiation scenes.) It’s a “safe”, traditional pick for Best Picture, and one that is definitely coming from the old guard in the Academy. I have the utmost respect for Mr. Spielberg, and this is an excellent film in the spy genre, but it’s not as ground-breaking as many of the others this year. (Currently available at Redbox; available through Netflix 3/1.)

The Martian is also out on DVD now and I just did a re-watch. It might be the most uplifting Best Picture contender out there, complete with disco music. The film is all-around entertaining, despite the fact that it should be terrifying to be alone on another planet, and it’s almost all due to Matt Damon’s wonderful performance. (Ridley Scott may have helped.) Based on Andy Weir’s novel, it’s up for seven awards: Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role for Matt Damon, Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects, and Adapted Screenplay. This is a must-see.

And a few other nominees out on DVD and streaming…

I did a post about Cinderella awhile ago, and that film is up for Costume Design this year. If you haven’t seen this latest version, it’s fantastic and absolutely worthy of the Costume Design Oscar. A major improvement on a stale fairytale.

The adorable, hilarious Inside Out is up for Animated Feature Film and Original Screenplay. I don’t care who you are, you will bawl your eyes out and be amazed at how clever the entire thing is.

“Earned It” from Fifty Shades of Grey is up for Original Song…and I’m sure that’s exactly why you want to see that movie.

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Oscar Party Ideas: Week 2 – Decorations & Schwag

I have never been swanky enough to buy a red carpet, but you can always go that route and have it at the front door for guests. (This is where you rope in your friends who have the good cameras and love to play photographer.) I’m all for dressing up–whether you go silly and use old bridesmaids and prom dresses, or go all in with a costume rental–it just adds to the fun of the night. Plus, you can pose like you never would in real life…

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Movie posters add a nice touch, but I prefer to spend the extra money on gift bags, rather than decorations. If it’s an all-girls affair, make-up and beauty samples are great, and easy to pick up anywhere on the cheap. If it’s a mixed group and in your budget, you can buy older movies for around $5 at Target, online, in those fun bins at Best Buy, etc. They don’t have to be classics or Oscar winners, just get a good mix for everyone’s taste and drop one in each bag with $1 candy or a bag of popcorn. (If it’s a really small group, you could even do gift cards to a local theater, or pass out reward cards–almost every theater has a great rewards program.)

Betting on the ballots is always a crowd-pleaser. I mentioned it in an older post, but set a limit that’s appropriate for the group ($1, $5, $10, etc.) and make sure everyone brings cash if they want in. No IOU’s! (Who wants to leave a party with $20 in IOU’s for people they might never see again?!)

Don’t forget to send out invites! Evite, Paperless Post, and Minted all have great options.

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