Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Oscar Blog -with Hillary Manton Lodge!

I met another writer, current friend and fellow film enthusiast through the internet. Her name is Hillary Manton Lodge and in our excitement for the Oscars, we decided to have a cyber - conversation predicting the winners of Sunday night's Academy Awards. Join us! There are a lot of categories, so we're going to dive right into the Best Actor Category -

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Robbie: Colin Firth. This is a no brainer. He won the Golden Globe and the SAG for The King’s Speech. He is just excellent as the stuttering King George VI. His fear is palpable. I’m a long time Firth fan, since I saw him as the gorgeous Mr. Darcy in BBC’s Pride and Prejudice. I say it’s about time.

Hillary: Hear, hear! I’m in total agreement. Colin’s put out a lot of good work lately; he gets stuck in some thankless roles sometimes (The Accidental Husband comes to mind,) so I’m delighted that he’s gotten the recognition for his more serious work.

He’s a talented man, even when he’s not walking out of a lake.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Hillary: Natalie Portman. End of conversation. It was very shrewd of her to become pregnant and engaged to the choreographer of her film, because her “aww” factor is unbeatable at this point. It doesn’t hurt that she acted her bony little toes off in Black Swan, either – that statuette is hers.

Robbie: I haven’t seen Black Swan, but she’s won for this role at the Golden Globes and the SAGs. My personal
favorite is Nicole Kidman in Rabbit Hole. She was soooooo good!

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Robbie: Christian Bale playing Dicky Eklund in The Fighter is a tour de force performance. I didn’t recognize him at all. He’ll win, but I do have a place in my heart for Geoffrey Rush from The King’s Speech. He is outstanding in it.

Which of these would you choose, Hillary?

Hillary: Christian Bale. But I feel the same way about Geoffrey Rush! It was nice to see him not dressed as a pirate for once :-)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Hillary: I’m going with Hailee Steinfeld on this one. I think Melissa Leo had it pretty much sewn up until she pulled this stunt, which was – weirdy weird? I don’t even know what to say. And frankly, if she doesn’t show up to the Oscars in flow-length fur.

But Hailee, Hailee is young and fresh as a California daisy, with enough spunk and screen presence to hold her own next to Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, and Josh Brolin. And as far as I know, she’s publicly avoided fur.

Robbie – you’ve seen both True Grit and The Fighter. Thoughts?

Robbie: Melissa Leo will win. I used to love watching her in an old TV show called Homicide. So I’m a fan. And when I saw The Fighter, I didn’t recognize her at all. Total transformation. Hailee was excellent, but I believe Melissa was better. As far as the ad goes, you’re right – weirdy weird! Hope that doesn’t ruin it fur her.

Hillary: Groan!!!

Best Achievement in Directing

Hillary: This one’s tricky! Normally the DGA (Director’s Guild Awards) is the major predictor for this category. Tom Hooper of The King’s Speech won, but all the buzz and predictions is in David Fincher’s favor (The Social Network).

I’m a fan of Fincher – I thought his Zodiac was amazing, and I feel that under his direction, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo has a shot at being okay.

But…I’m going with the guild with this one. I may be wrong. But the guild seldom leads me astray.

Robbie, what do you think?

Robbie: I think the Academy Award voters will actually split and give the Best Picture to The King’s Speech and give Best Director to Tom Hooper. I doubt The Social Network will get any other awards besides writing, and this is a wonderful, relevant movie. Hooper will win is my guess.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

Robbie: David Seidler will win for The King’s Speech because it will win best movie of the year. Mr. Seidler suffered from a stutter as a child and that tidbit adds to the sentimental factor. But Christopher Nolan SHOULD win for Inception. It is original and written with a rhythm and complexity that makes the audience actually think about the plot. Loved it!

You’re a wonderful writer Hillary, so what do you think?

Hillary: Aw, thanks Robbie :-) Both Inception and The King’s Speech, obviously great screenplays. It’s tricky to compare the two, because they’re so different. Inception is so very plot-oriented, The King’s Speech is all about character.

Of the two, I definitely have a stronger emotional attachment to The King’s Speech. I loved how it was about so many things without being heavy-handed in one direction or another.

The win will definitely go to The King’s Speech, but truly, if Speech and Inception hadn’t released the same year, the award would go to Chris Nolan for Incpetion.

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

Hillary: Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) has this in the bag. Though I have to say, while the writing was classic Sorkin brilliance most of the time, I found the opening sequence to be a little too “Hey look at me, see how clever my writing is,” and made it difficult to really get into the film at first. If you’re writing is stopping the reader/viewer/partaker of media from becoming involved in the piece as a whole, it’s time to edit.

There’s my Social Network rant.

In my perfect, happy world, I would honestly give the award to the Cohen siblings for True Grit. I loved the dialogue; it was wordy when it needed to be and spare when necessary. But that’s just me.

Back to you, Robbie!

Robbie: You make a great point about the cleverness of Aaron Sorkin, but that’s what I adore about his writing. I think he deserves the trophy. The Cohen brothers based their movie more on the book than the original John Wayne movie and I believe the book is where they got the style of writing from. So, although True Grit’s wording is interesting, I found The Social Network to be more interesting.

Hillary: I can honor that!

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
Robbie: Toy Story 3 should and will win! My son liked How To Train Your Dragon much more, but the voters are all adults who will award not just this movie but the dynasty of great animation movies that is Toy Story 1,2 and 3.

Hillary: Totally agree. It’s kind of like the Best Picture win for Return of the King, except with Fisher Price toys. Loved HTTYD, though. Note: just looking at this picture makes me teary!

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year

Hillary: I’m going with Incendies, from Canada, but this is always a tricky one to predict. I haven’t seen any of the films, but I’ll definitely catch most of them after they release to DVD.

Dark horse: Suzanne Bier’s In a Better World, mainly because the Academy loves Suzanne Bier. (She directed 2006’s After the Wedding, which showed the softer side of Mads Mikkelsen).

Robbie – have you seen any of the nominees?

Robbie: Nope. But every time I Netflix a foreign movie, I base it on the last year’s nominees. So eventually I’ll see them all. For this category, I vote randomly. Incendies sounds good.

Best Achievement in Cinematography

Robbie: I hope Roger Deakins will win for True Grit. He’s been nominated for this award 9 times for films like Fargo and The Shawshank Redemption but he’s never won. True Grit was not my favorite movie this year, but the camera work is excellent and makes you feel as if you are truly in the old west. I love the underdog and for someone to be nominated 9 times and not win, well, that’s sad. I’m hoping number 10 will be a charm.

Hillary: This is another tricky one. Inception won the ASC award, but there are a lot of people who want to see Roger Deakins win. While I think giving him the award is not unlike Martin Scorcese’s Oscar for The Departed, I hope he wins. If he doesn’t, the Oscar will be going home with Wally Pfister for Inception.

Best Achievement in Editing

Hillary: The Social Network won the Eddie Award (how cute is that!), which is the Editor’s Guild award. Though technically Alice in Wonderland won an award as well, the Oscar will go to The Social Network.

My Preference: Well, my heart is with The King. The thing that worries me is that, traditionally, the film that wins Best Editing usually wins Best Pic…

Robbie: My heart, too, is with The King’s Speech. However, I have to tell you I was shocked that Inception was not included in this category. I felt the editing in that movie kept the suspense taut and the action moving. My personal Robbie Award for Best Editing – Inception!

Hillary: Yeah, Inception’s lack of a nom here was strange. Christopher Nolan won a special award at the Eddies, but I’m not sure it makes up for the slight.

Best Achievement in Makeup

Robbie: I haven’t seen any of these movies, but I checked out the character’s make up online from each one. Barney’s Version is aging make up. The Way Back is war time battle make up and The Wolfman is monster make up. My vote is for The Wolfman because they transformed Benicio del Torro from a beautiful man to a hairy creature. That’s craft!

Hillary: I agree! Though I do think Benicio del Toro is kinda funny looking. ..

Robbie: Then I’ll take the funny looking one.

Best Achievement in Costume Design

Hillary: Both Alice in Wonderland and The King’s Speech took home Costume Designers Guild Awards, but Colleen Atwood (Alice won fairly recently for both Memoirs of a Geisha and Chicago. Jenny Beavan, on the other hand, hasn’t won since A Room With a View, though she’s costumed films such as Ever After, Possession, Sherlock Holmes, and Sense and Sensibility, all films I really like and thought were very strong costume-wise.

So I’m going with Jenny.

Robbie: Absolutely. The King’s Speech costumes were on the money.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song

Robbie: “We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3 is my pick. The songs from 127 Hours, Country Strong and Tangled are all slow beautiful ballads, but Randy Newman’s “We Belong Together” is fun, cheerful and perfectly fits the friendship theme in Toy Story 3.

Hillary: Agreed! Throw in the Toy Story 3 “aww” factor (up there with Natalie’s baby bump), and it’s definitely Randy Newman for the win :-)

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

Hillary: Again, it’s between The Social Network and The King’s Speech. Again, it’s between the hip factor and the conservative but nice.

However, I think the fact that the Academy is…how to put it…aging…the fact that Alexandre Desplat’s score is truly lovely, and the fact that he’s been nominated four times – I’m going with Alex, despite the fact that he has a strange looking upper lip.

Which score did you prefer, Robbie?

Robbie: I disagree with you on this one, Hillary. Although the scores from The Social Network and The King’s Speech were wonderful, the score from Inception was brilliant. It probably won’t win but it should. I think if not Inception’s score, the score from The King’s Speech will win.

Hillary: Interesting choice!

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

Robbie: Inception. The sound is dreamy. Yes, that was an intentional pun.

Hillary: Well, if there’s going to be a pun, it may as well be intentional…

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

Hillary: Inception. Because it’s cool and techy.

Robbie: Much better than cold and tacky.

Best Achievement in Visual Effects

Robbie: The Visual Effects team of Inception should and will win, hands down. The dream scenes with all the paradoxical architecture are absolutely outstanding. A house has a flood within it, a street of buildings collapse slowly and a staircase appears to never end. These are just three of the amazing visual effects this movie has to offer.

Hillary: I’m going to disagree here. My prediction is a win for Iron Man; Academy voters have historically been shown to be easily swayed by men in metal suits.

Just kidding. Starting to get loopy here. If there wasn’t a pun above, it probably wouldn’t have happened. The award will go to Inception.

Robbie: Oh, Hillary-san, you funny when loopy.

Best Achievement in Art Direction

Hillary: This one is tricky too. Alice in Wonderland is favored by many to win, but it didn’t win an Art Director’s Guild award.

But it was big and splash and had Johnny Depp in it.

But The King’s Speech – which did win an ADG award, was really lovely.

Difficult to say. At this point…erg. Will it go to Alice because Alice isn’t likely to win anything else? Or to King’s Speech because voters are caught up in a wave of voting love, as they tend to do?

I’m going to argue with the other predictors and go with Speech. I may be wrong.

OR…voters could go with Inception, which also won a ADG award and looked amazing, and less like a Tim Burton movie. Truly and deeply conflicted. Did the elderly voters stay awake long enough to see Paris fold over on itself? Sticking with Speech for the time being, but I’ll let you know if I change my mind.

Robbie – insight? Help?

Robbie: You bring up a great point about the “seniority” of the Academy Award members. But I am going to be idealistic and say that they saw all of the entries with an open mind. If they did, I believe it would be between Inception (I really liked that movie – can you tell?) and Alice in Wonderland. I’m going to go with my favorite, Inception.

Hillary: Thank you for your calm words of wisdom, Robbie-san.

Best Documentary, Features

Robbie: The only one I’ve seen is Exit Through the Gift Shop and I think it will win. It’s the story of graffiti artists. Doesn’t sound that interesting, but it made me care about these nocturnal lovers of graffiti art.

Hillary: I’ve heard good things about Exit, but all the buzz I’ve read about is saying Inside Job. This may be because a lot of Hollywood celebs lost a lot of money last year.

Best Documentary, Short Subjects

Hillary: Based on the subject material, I’m going for Killing in the Name. Mind you, I haven’t seen any of the shorts.

Robbie: I think I’ll choose Poster Girl although I haven’t seen any of them either. I like the irony of the film – The film’s subject was on the cover of an Army magazine and went to Iraq and then suffered from post traumatic stress disorder. I want to see this one.

Best Short Film, Animated

Robbie: The only one I’ve seen is the one that will win. Not because of me, of course. Day and Night was the short film by Pixar that was shown before Toy Story 3. I thought it was brilliant.

Hillary: I’m leaning towards The Lost Thing myself, but this tends to be a tricky category to predict.

Best Short Film, Live Action

Hillary: Ebert says Na Wewe – I say, sure!

Robbie: Ebert knows.

And finally, the Big Kahuna….

Best Motion Picture of the Year

Robbie: The King’s Speech. It has the Academy Award feel of a Best Picture. It is a great story and wonderfully told, well-acted, and the ending allows the audience to feel wonderfully. There is a slight chance for an upset with The Social Network taking the honor being a movie of our times, completely relevant to what is going on in our technological world. But most of the voters are older, so I’m going to go with The King’s Speech.

Hillary: I agree, for the same reasons. While I think the fact that it has that Best Pic Material sheen seemed to it hurt it earlier on, The Social Network experienced the same backlash that Up in the Air did last year to a certain extent.

That being said, The King’s Speech is a wonderful story with characters that really resonate; the film’s success is an illustration of the way audiences respond to films with well-written characters.

Robbie: Lovely to banter with you Hillary! Here’s to the Oscars! And speaking of the ceremony - what will you be wearing?

Hillary: I had trouble deciding. Either:

Elie Saab, from the Spring 2011 collection. Or:

This is from Carolina Herrera's Fall 2011 collection; you can see it move here. The skirt is, like, alive. But I'd probably want to stick a giant sparkly pin on the waistband, so I'm not to be trusted with fashion.

Robbie: Even with a giant sparkly pin, you'll look stunning, Hilary. I, too, had trouble deciding. So I decided to pick something that my personal friend and look-a-lile Penelope Cruz might wear. She modeled the following for me:



Robbie: So there you have it! Thank you Hillary for a wonderful conversation! Hillary will be live tweeting during the ceremony so check her out. Also, you have to go to her blog and read her two wonderful novels, Plain Jayne and Simply Sara!

I will be hosting a party Sunday night and enjoying the festivities with some friends. Here's to the Oscars! Silly, wonderful fun! :0)

Thursday, February 24, 2011


“I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in His word I put my hope.” Psalm 130:5

Are you waiting?

Currently, I’m waiting for our trip to California to my stepdaughter’s wedding. So excited! I’m waiting on the day I will have lost 100 pounds. (It’s a ways off.) I’m waiting on a check in the mail from Chicken Soup. I’m waiting for that glorious day when I get an entire book by me published. I’m waiting on my husband to see how incredible I am. Wait, strike the last one. It’s happened. :0)

Waiting is difficult. Last week I received a rejection for my writing in the mail, which is not uncommon, and it devastated me, which is uncommon. Not sure why this one got to me but it did. So I went to God and whined. Why? Why not me, God? Am I supposed to write?

God led me to a little book by Henri Nouwen called Finding My Way Home and a chapter in that book called “The Power of Waiting.” It changed my paradigm. God changed my heart.

Here’s some of what God, through Henri, taught me.

• Waiting on God is waiting on His fulfillment in me. It is a process that is based on waiting on something that’s already begun in me. God’s fulfillment, though not complete, is already growing in me like a little seed into a beautiful plant. Waiting on God is not waiting for something to initially happen; it is waiting for God to continue His work.

• Waiting involves patience. Henri wrote, “Impatient people expect the real thing to happen somewhere else, and therefore they want to get away from the present situation and go elsewhere. Patient people dare to stay where they are.” I love that. Do I dare to stay right where I am? Or do I waste time chasing dreams in my mind?

• Waiting is to be active. Waiting on God is not like you’re standing, waiting for a bus. It is expecting EACH DAY to be a step in the fulfillment of God’s purposes. It is believing that God is at work RIGHT NOW. Even as I write this Joyvotion, God is at work in me. Even as you read this Joyvotion, God is at work in you.

• Waiting is open-ended. I find myself full of wishes, especially when it comes to writing and speaking. Henri reminded me that often wishes get tangled up with fear. My wish to have a novel published masks my fear of never having a novel published. That fear blocks open-ended waiting. So I must try to let go of my wishes and live in HOPE. Hope that fulfillment, according to the promises of God will continue to grow within me.

Are you waiting on God for something? How about join me and just wait on God. Affirm what He’s already started in you and look for His fulfillment to grow each day.

Someone asked me last night how my writing was going. I answered confidently, “I’m waiting on the Lord. He’s doing what He wants.”

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Annual Academy Awards Movie Review

The Academy Awards are this Sunday. Many folks don’t care about this award show. I am not one of those folks. I have been watching this show since I was eleven and I love it. I enjoy watching the stars arrive, I like looking at all the gowns and I actually get pleasure from watching the show. Someone asked me once why I like award shows so much and I answered truthfully. “It’s a show completely devoted to encouragement. I love that.”

And I try to see as many of the nominated movies as I can. Call it a hobby, but I really love it.

So here is my annual review of the 10 nominated movies:

The King’s Speech – SEE IT – This is a wonderful film that tells a piece of history while demonstrating the power of having a voice. King George the sixth, played by Colin Firth, has a stuttering problem and is terrified of speaking in public. But as a King, he must speak. I loved this movie and so did my husband. The friendship between Colin Firth’s character and Geoffrey Rush’s character is the heart of this movie and it drives the action. This movie contains the F word but it is used comically – the King does not stutter when he cusses.

The Fighter – SEE IT ONCE – MAYBE RENT IT– This is a movie based on a real life story of two brothers and boxers who live in Lowell, Massachusetts. The story is what drew me to enjoy this film. And great acting. Christian Bale is a stand out as a crazy older brother addicted to crack. I wouldn’t see it again, but I LOVED the story.

Inception – SEE IT WITH A FRIEND– It’s on DVD – We bought it! Inception is a movie about dreams and dream travelling with others to unlock and plant secrets. Sounds confusing, right? Well, it can be but I found it wonderfully challenging. My son LOVED this movie and has seen it a few times. Each time, he notices something different. This is the kind of movie that causes a wonderful discussion afterward. See it with a friend so you can talk about it after.

The Social Network – RENT IT- I enjoyed this movie, simply because I enjoy Facebook. So, it was interesting to see the story behind the website. Of course, this movie is fiction, but much of it is based on truth. I loved West Wing and the writer Aaron Sorbin wrote this movie. He writes banter like no one else. His writing has a rhythm all its own. If you don’t like Facebook, skip this movie, but if you enjoy wonderful dialogue, check it out.

Toy Story 3 – SEE IT, BUY IT, and bring the tissues! I saw this movie by myself on a Monday afternoon. Only four other people were in the movie theatre with me and I’m glad of it. I bawled like a baby. WONDERFUL movie, complete with the entire Toy Story gang. If you are a parent, this movie will get to you. Unless of course, you are a heartless, unfeeling piece of wood.

True Grit – Rent it – My father was a huge John Wayne fan, so of course, I’ve seen the original True Grit more than once. I went in to the theatre with low expectations. Jeff Bridges did a good job, although at times it was as if he was doing an imitation of John Wayne. The girl who plays Matty was wonderful, as was the dialogue. Written formally with a pioneer kind of flare, the words struck me as original, even though much of it was exactly the same as the first movie. There are a couple of changes from the original, both of which I didn’t like that much.

Winter’s Bone – Rent it if you dare – I watched this movie on On Demand. It was a Sundance winner – a film, not a movie. Quiet, haunting and chilling. It’s set in the Ozarks and has a Deliverance feel to it. The hillbilly bad guys in this movie would make the Mafia think twice. But the story is really interesting. A 17 old girl tries to find her father who has disappeared because he put up their home for bail and if he doesn’t show up for court, they’ll lose their house. I really thought this was an interesting film, but walking a mile in the backwoods of the Ozarks kind of gave me the creeps. :0)

The Kids Are All Right – SKIP IT – I went to the theatre thinking the story line sounded intriguing. Lesbian couple’s kids find their father and drama ensues. What I discovered was a porno flick with snippets of story. During most of this movie my eyes were on my popcorn. I HATED IT. HATED IT. When I came out of the theatre, I went straight for the movie poster, thinking I had mistakenly went to a NC-17 movie. Nope, it was R. Wish I’d never gone.

127 Hours – Didn’t see it – Just can’t find the time to pay money to watch someone cut off their own arm. Maybe I’ll Netflix it though.

Black Swan – Didn’t see it – I heard so much about this movie that was negative. It’s a psychological dream-like film that explores a ballerina’s drive to perfection. There are some things I just can’t see spending money on. This is one of them.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Joyvotion Valentine for You!

A Joyvotion Valentine for You

“I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Jeremiah 31:3a

Last week was one of those weeks that were filled with the tiny spaces between tears and anguish. Lots of “poor me” time.

One night toward the end of the week, after Noah went to take a bath, John shut off the TV show we were watching and looked at me. “What’s up, Robbie?”

“Just a hard day. Hard week. I feel like I’m focusing on all that I haven’t done, instead of what I have accomplished. I’m down on myself.”

My husband grinned. “I have some wisdom for you that will work.”

I expected a great spiritual truth. “Okay.”

“A Jedi Master once said, ‘Be mindful of your thoughts and feelings. They determine your reality.’”

I giggled. “Seriously? Yoda?”

“Oh, no. I don’t quote Yoda. That was Obi Wan Kenobi’s master Qui-Gon Jinn.” He paused and added. “It’s kind of like ‘As a man thinketh so he is.’ ” (Proverbs 23:7)

The next half hour was a mixture of tears and laughter as I poured out what I’d been thinking and feeling. John listened and offered wisdom when he sensed I wanted some.

After, I wiped my eyes and smiled. “I feel better. You know why? Cause I got to share my heart with you.”

John’s next words moved me. “Your heart is safe with me, Robbie.”

This time of year our thoughts, manipulated at times by cheesy commercials, run toward buying Hallmark Cards or chocolate for the ones we love. Or, even better, receiving them. :0)

A symbol of the holiday is the heart. As we give each other cards covered with colorful hearts, we ask, “Will you be my Valentine?”

But this Valentine’s Day, I encourage you to guard your heart and give it away only to those that will nurture it. Find a safe place. This takes wisdom and risk. Because, let’s face it, there are many more unsafe places to put our hearts than safe.

No matter if you’re in a relationship or not, there is always one, for certain, never-unsafe place for your heart. In the hands of a God who adores you and sent His son Jesus to die for you. And your heart.

I am so blessed by John. He is the love of my life. But he is not perfect and he has dropped my heart before. As I have, his.

But God? Never.

This Valentine’s Day, I hope for you an experience that surpasses all the boxes of chocolate, long stem roses and “He got it at Jared’s” moments.

A choice to look up to Christ and say, “Here’s my heart, Lord.”

It will always be safe with Him.

(If you would like to receive bi-monthly Joyvotions from me, just email me at robbieiobst at hotmail dot com. )

Monday, February 07, 2011

What if I'm not WILLING to eat healthy?

Some days I just want to eat. I'm not talking "eating to live" but "living to eat." Whether it be wanting to not feel pain or overeating out of a bad habit, some days I just want to eat.

I prowl around like a wolf looking for prey as I search out the frig or pantry. I sit and ponder where I want to go for lunch.
Again, hunger plays no part. Nutritional needs are not eve a passing concern.

I just want to eat.

On those days, the best tactic I can take in the battle of the bulge is a simple prayer. "God, make me willing to be willing."

I picked up this prayer in a 12 step group and though I don't attend that group anymore, I still use what I learned, including this prayer.

God is big enough to change our focus. He gently lifts our heads and causes us to look in a different way. But He never forces a change in attitude.

Ergo, this wonderful prayer. When I just want to eat, if I pray "God, make me willing to be willing," His Spirit gently nudges me away from my stubborn bondage to food and reminds me that there is another choice. I don't have to just eat.

I can receive the strength God offers and find myself willing to make healthy choices. HE causes me to be willing to be willing.

Try it. This works. He works.