Monday, February 20, 2012

Media Monday, Oscar 2012 Edition

OK, OK.  I said I'd "be back tomorrow" a week ago, and then I disappeared into the ether again.  But I was thinking about you, my readers, my friends, my family.  I was.

My computer finally came back from the shop, and we seem to be OK for the moment.  We being my computer (which is functioning enough to post this blog) and myself.  I've been battling depression lately. (Always? No, not always. But lately.)  It's been hard to even send a text-mesage, let alone an email, let alone a full blog.  The challenge of chemical depression is that sometimes there isn't a great reason to be blue, but you're indigo and cornflower and cerulean all the same.

When I'm in such a rut, I refer back to a phrase we say commonly in our home, that I "need to fill my well."  I first learned the phrase from my mother, referring to the general ennui and emotional exhaustion when one isn't taking care of oneself (or from taking care of others and not receiving care in return.)  Tom first learned the phrase in an artistic context, from Julia Cameron - author of The Artist's Way, a favorite book of ours.  It's the same basic concept - you're running dry of resources - but in the realm of creativity, it's about needing a steady input of inspiration before you can create a steady outflow of creation.  I find that when my well is running low in one way, it's also running low the other way. 

I put myself in a dearth of self-care and inspiration.  And when I do it, I often half-heartedly attempt to fill my well.  Oh, I'll watch some dumb TV.  Oh, I'll play some silly mobile game.  Oh, I'll watch something clever but only give it part of my attention.  Instead of well-filling, it becomes further well-draining.  To truly turn myself around, I have to be conscious and mindful -- not only about my self-care, but about the creative inspiration too.

And almost never am I more mindful about entertainment than while watching the Oscar-nominated films.  Ten of which I watched this weekend! It felt good to get out and spend time with friends while watching the Oscar-nominated short films (an outing I mentioned in last week's Media Monday post.) 

The films are still playing at the NuArt in West LA.
Photo courtesy of Rochelle

It was a pretty good batch this year!  I found something to appreciate about each of the films, which is perhaps the first time that has happened.  Often in the past, we've joked that the live action films are 80% cancer- or holocaust-themed (and nearly 100% of the time, a cancer- or holocaust-themed short wins.)  But this year, I was surprised to find that none of the films were malignant or swastika-ed . The one film that included illness didn't focus on the main character being sick, but on the eccentric hobbies he indulged in during his illness.)

Of the live-action films, I am torn between several, but I probably land on "The Shore" as my favorite.

When it comes to the animated films - which I tend to prefer - I'm fond of many of the nominees, but one definitely stood out.  I highly recommend "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore," a fanciful and elegant love letter to the warmth and soul-satisfaction of books.  The short brought my bibliophile friends and loved ones to mind - Rena and Audra chief among them.  The two of them ought to see it... and so should you.  And, luckily, you can -- it's available on iTunes for FREE!

A still from the film, as Mr. Lessmore enters the library for the first time.

We're big Oscar-watchers here, and as of last weekend, we've seen all 9 of the best picture nominees, all but 2 of the acting nominees, and all but 2 of the writing nominees.  Here are my picks for the winners (of the categories that matter most to me) as well as who I'd vote for, were I voting.

Best Picture
Who I think will win: The Artist
Who I'd vote for: The Artist.  I loved it.  My favorite film of the year (and my favorites are not always nominated.)

Best Director
Who I think will win: Hazanavicius for The Artist.
Who I'd vote for: Hazanavicius for The Artist.

Best Actor
Who I think will win: Jean Dujardin
Who I'd vote for: Jean Dujardin

Best Actress
Who I think will win: Viola Davis
Who I'd vote for: Viola Davis

Best Supporting Actor
Who I think will win: Christopher Plummer
Who I'd vote for: Christopher Plummer. I just saw - and LOVED - Beginners.

Best Supporting Actress
Who I think will win: Octavia Spencer
Who I'd vote for: Honestly... this is the strongest category I've ever seen.  I have a deep appreciation of every one of these performances, and I'd be perfectly happy if any of them won.  If pushed, I'd vote for Spencer.

Screenwriting, Adapted
Who I think will win: The Descendents
Who I'd vote for: Hugo, but The Descendents was also strong.

Screenwriting, Original
Who I think will win: The Artist
Who I'd vote for: The Artist, but I loved Midnight in Paris, too.

Best Song
Who I think will win: It had BETTER be "Man Or Muppet."
Who I'd vote for: I've been declaring it publicly since the day the film opened: "Man Or Muppet" needs to win the Oscar.

Best Score
Who I think will win: The Artist
Who I'd vote for: The Artist

I usually care a great deal about animation, but we couldn't see 2 of the nominees this year, so I'm not going to weigh in with a guess or a vote.

Wow!  There's usually far fewer categories where I'd vote for my predicted winner. 

It's funny to me how long this post became.  Because it's about entertainment... and as of this morning, I'm on a self-imposed entertainment diet.  I put a moratorium on passive entertainment, for one week.  As I described earlier in this post, my well-filling has been half-hearted, and I've too easily leaned on passive entertainment to distract me from self-care or active creation.  So this week, I will not be watching TV or movies, nor playing games that aren't social with someone in person.  I've tried this a few times in my life (while I was reading The Artist's Way - though Cameron's recommendation is for no reading.  Reading is not my particular vice.)

During this week, I plan to create my own entertainment.  I'll write, I'll blog, I'll photograph.  I'll clean, I'll organize, I'll call a friend.  I'll stop zoning out, and start tuning in to my surroundings.  It will give me the freedom to focus on self-care... which I'll share more about tomorrow.  Really, for-real, tomorrow.  Because I have no excuses - entertaining you will be my way of entertaining me.  That or braiding my cat's fur.  I don't know how crazy I'll be after several days without watching anything.  My hope is that when I finally turn that TV back on - for the Oscar ceremony - it'll be well-filling instead of creativity-crushing. 

I'm off to take care of me, with a prompt bedtime and some calming music. I hope that you will come back to visit here tomorrow, and that in the meanwhile, you will take care of you, too.


  1. I'm glad to see you blogging. Have missed seeing you in class. Glad to hear you are taking care of you

  2. Sorry you're feeling so blue. I'm glad to hear you're back! I've missed you. Wondered how you were doing.

  3. I should go on a media diet- I find I leave the TV on far too much and have an RSS feed addiction. Hope that it works well for you this week! And my phone line is open if you want to call.

  4. I'm glad that you wrote this blog and that you'll be writing more this week. The media diet sounds interesting, although not one that I'd be able to adhere to very easily.

    Thanks for the tip on the short film - I'm downloading it as I type this.

  5. My phone line is open as well - feel free to call! I'm working on the very same well-filling. Best of luck to both of us. =P

  6. Kepp up the writing- I always enjoy your posts. You have many of us pulling for you.

    Very impressed with the accuracy of your Oscar picks!