Sunday, January 25, 2015

My First Critics Choice Awards

I have been back in Missouri for a week already and I still can't begin to put into words the fun I had attending my first Critics Choice Awards.  But I promised I would try, so here we go.

The day we arrived was a whirlwind (see earlier post about our Ellen segment), and it ended at the Critics Choice Pre-Party held at iPic

iPic is a spectacular theater experience - Jessica and I sat cozy by the fires - the food and drinks were over the top.  A great way to start our trip.
This is also where I met Aaron Dicer, who proved to be quite the entertainer.  (This pic is of us on our way to the After-party the next night)

The next day was all about getting glam.  Jessica and I put our trust in the hands of the team at blo Blow-Dry Bar in West Hollywood. 


They were very sweet and made us feel right at home - even letting us keep our bags there overnight , saving us a trip back to our hotel.  
I think they did a great job,  don't you?
The Awards Ceremony was held at the Hollywood Palladium, which was fabulous. 
Aaron took a quick picture of us and then he was off schmoozing with the celebrities.  This was old hat to him.  Next year, I will take everything I learned from him and get better pictures, I promise!
We were seated at Table 68.  See those beautiful books, I lost mine somewhere in the night.  It is my one regret.  Darn I wish I still had it.
We were seated with the folks from Bold Films.  They produced Whiplash and Nightcrawler this year - both films I loved.  Pretty happy with our table!!
John Krasinski and Emily Blunt were adorable to watch. 
Oprah was two tables away from us.  So surreal.  She is a presence, let me tell you.
John De Simio, Executive Vice President of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. 
When Angelina arrived, she walked by our table and said hello to both of us.  She is very beautiful.  During the breaks, Jessica did her best to talk to Angelina, but she was a popular girl.  She did manage to snap this picture of another woman's hand taking a picture of Angelina. 

I managed to speak with Julianne Moore for a few seconds - I hate this cheesy grin, but it does sum up my feelings at the moment.  I could hardly contain my excitement.  Julianne was very kind and gracious.  And tiny.  Everyone is tiny.
I also spoke with Michael Keaton  and David Oyelowo, and exchanged hellos with Reese Witherspoon in the ladies room.  Everyone we met was so friendly and genuinely nice.
After the awards, cars were waiting and whisked us away to the Hollywood Athletic Club for the Afterparty
The food and atmosphere at the Hollywood Athletic Club were over the top.  We had a wonderful time talking with other critics and film folks.  But alas, after a long day, our phones were dead so we didn't get any pictures.
The next morning, I couldn't stop smiling.  This was our lunch stop - we did all things touristy - Chinese Theater, TMZ Tour, Hollywood Sign etc.
We spent the last night of our trip at the Santa Monica pier - the perfect ending to a perfect trip to California.
The morning we left, Tyler Kimball was kind enough to join me for coffee.  He is the sweetest man!  He is in the movie Whiplash, which had been nominated for an Oscar just two days before our coffee date. To be part of an Oscar nominated film...neither one of us really knows what it will ultimately mean for him. But I tell you all this.  Write down his name.  Great things are heading his way.  I can feel it. 
For the complete list of Critics Choice Award winners, click here:
Until next year!!!!

The Boy Next Door (Movie Review)

I knew better - I really did - but since Jay missed his opportunity to see JLo in person (with me two weeks ago in Los Angeles), I thought I would take one for the team and go see "The Boy Next Door".  Jennifer Lopez tops his list as Sexiest Woman in the World so it seemed the least I could do. 
As is sometimes the case, the trailer was the best part of this movie:

So ridiculous and predictable - we actually found ourselves laughing out loud.  (Lucky for us, there were very few folks in the theater (shocker), so we didn't offend anyone). 

Jennifer Lopez is beautiful to look at - there is no question.  Young Noah Guzman is quite handsome as well.  The movie only lasted 90 minutes.   So there is that.

My work here is done.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Then We Danced...with Ellen (Our Trip to Hollywood - Day One)

Last week, I checked something off of my bucket list - going to Ellen!! I expected it to be fun -  but it was beyond fun.  There really isn't a word to describe it except maybe supercalifragilisticexpealidocious?  Who cares about the spelling!!!

Once upon I time, I took a job at Fox 26 KNPN in St. Joseph, MO.  It just so happens that we carry Ellen in our lineup.  So I mentioned an upcoming trip to Los Angeles to our Sales Manager, Chris Schmitter (aka that crazy Northwest Fan from the Chamber Meetings aka the sweetest woman in the world).  I asked her "is there any chance I could get Ellen tickets?"  She replied "I don't know, but I will ask around."  Fast forward about 5 weeks and an email arrives - I have two VIP tickets to the Ellen show on the very day I land in Los Angeles.

Two things to mention here:  1.  Never ever be afraid to ask a question.  The worse thing that can happen is you get a "no."  2.  I have never prayed for good weather as hard as I did when I realized the small window of time I had to get from LAX to the Warner Brothers Lot, Gate 3.

I had two tickets to all my events in Los Angeles, so I invited my husband.  He had no interest in attending any events requiring "fancy clothes", so he stayed home and I took my first born, Jessica.  It was the fairest thing to do.  We go in order of age, just like Christmas.

We land.  We take a cab to our hotel.  We freshen up.  We take another cab to Warner Brothers and make a ROOKIE mistake.  We don't give the driver the exact address of Ellen, so he drops us off at the main entrance of Warner Brothers, which is a far cry from Ellen.  So we walked for quite a while and found Gate 3.  We checked in and then went looking for lunch.

Honestly - we ate - we didn't just drink wine.  Honest.  I promise!

Back to Gate Three to for Ellen.  We were SO excited!!  We had VIP tickets!!

Now you may be wondering - what does that mean exactly? It means you have tickets into the audience - for certain.  No chance you will be stuck in the Riff Raff room.  It also means you sit in this cute little roped off area of the parking garage.  Yes - you wait in line in a parking garage.  Its quite lovely, though.  There are vending machines and shade.  And a little Ellen kiosk.

Jessica works for a Charitable Group called #GoShoutLove.  They are all about loving and lifting up families with babies born in medical crisis.  Her goal was to connect Ellen with #GoShoutLove, so she wrapped a beautiful package full of #GoShoutLove Swag for Ellen.

Isn't it just adorable?!?!  (Meaning the gift.  But I know we can all agree, I do make adorable daughters too!)  We made lots of noise and acted like crazy fun girls and made great new friends:

Amy, Mindy, Kristal & her cutie husband, Ryan

Ryan again - and let me just tell you.  He does the Carlton like nobodys business.
He took this selfie with my phone when I wasn't looking.  So this was a sweet surprise!

Now you may be wondering - "why isn't Jessica in these pictures?"  Well that is because the producers fell in love with her and whisked her away - straight out of the VIP section!!!  She gave her gift to a producer who promised her it would make its way directly to Ellen!!  #GoShoutLove

Can you Shout Love!!!!!!

Jessica was gone FOREVER!!  I was so happy the new friends we met in the VIP section took me in as one of their own.  I could hardly contain my excitement.  She finally came back as we were being led into the Riff Raff Room.  And then guess what happened?!  Those new friends we met - gave #GoShoutLove a $50 donation!!!  We all hugged it out and cried!! #GoShoutLove!!

Let me remind you - all this happened before we even got into the studio!!

Once inside, we were amazed at how cozy the studio was - they split up our new "family" but we kept giving each other thumbs up throughout the show and had the time of our lives - so much dancing and laughing - it was amazing!  The guests for the show were Mariah Carey, Dax Shepard & Sharon Von Etten  

And then this happened:

Be sure and watch the video to see what happened!!  And then our facebook pages BLEW UP with screenshots of our reactions:

And THEN - there was yet another surprise!!!  We were asked to tape one more segment - with Jennifer Lopez!!!!  Now, this segment will air tomorrow so I can't share any pictures with you - but I will tell you this.  Jennifer Lopez is the most beautiful human being I have ever met in person.  She is stunning.  And so nice!!

After the taping, the announcer asked for Jessica Santo to wait in the studio to speak with a producer.  They invited us back to tape again the next day because they thought Jessica would be super fun for an on air game - but we couldn't do it because we had the Critics Choice Awards the next day.  Darn the luck!  But they have Jessica's number and all the information about #GoShoutLove.

It would mean the world to us if you could contact Ellen via your favorite social media and post this picture:

Use the #GoShoutLove Hashtag and tell Ellen to pick #GoShoutLove Babies for her next big giveaway! Oh, and be sure and tag Jessica and I!!!

Honestly, I am still recovering from the Ellen experience.  It will be a memory I will treasure for the rest of my life.

I will blog about the rest of my trip to Los Angeles later this week  - I just thought the Ellen experience deserved its own post.  It w as INCREDIBLE!!!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

My Top Ten Movies of 2014 (aka the year I cried every time I went to the movies)

I know my Top Ten List is late to the party, but there were a couple of movies I wanted to see before I made my final decisions.  

I also know this list is going to piss off some folks, other critics may think I have lost my mind.  So let's be clear.  This is a list of MY favorite movies.  Maybe they aren't blockbusters, maybe they aren't getting awards buzz, but they resonated with me for one reason or another.  

So without further ado:

#10  Selma

Someone commented on Facebook "we all know this story - we all took history."  I challenge that.  I think we are too quick to assume we know all about the struggles of African Americans in this country.  Every family should see this movie and many conversations should follow.  We have a long way to go, people.

#9 Love Is Strange

This was just a beautiful love story.  A simple reminder to open our hearts and allow people to love who they love.  Everyone has a story.  Everyone deserves happiness.  

#8 The Sublime and Beautiful

The human spirit is quite resilient, we all know this.  But this movie showcases all of the feelings we must work through when facing our darkest hours.  It was a very difficult movie to watch but man, was it beautifully done.  

#7 Whiplash

The underlying story in this movie really got to me.  If Miles Teller would have played an athlete, it would have been so predictable.  But seeing a young man in the arts facing the very same pressure and demons, well it was just fantastic.

#6 St. Vincent

This was a nice little surprise.  We went on a Sunday afternoon - and I let Jay choose,  telling him this was a "funny movie".  Well it was, until it wasn't.  Lots of funny parts, that's for sure - but we quickly learn it's so much more.  I absolutely loved this one.

#5 The Fault In Our Stars

I didn't read the book, so I didn't know how this story was going to end.  I fell in love with this movie for a million reasons.  It was a beautiful, young love story.  

#4 Rudderless

The directorial debut of William H. Macy, this is a little known gem.  I promise you will not be sorry for checking this one out.  It is fantastic.  The soundtrack is also great.  Go into it blind and you will love it.  Do no homework.  Just watch it.

#3 Birdman

I was blown away by this movie - on the edge of my seat for the entire ride.  Every story I read, every interview I hear about the making of this movie makes me love it even more.   It was unlike anything I have ever seen.

#2 Boyhood

I really can't begin to describe the way this movie affects you.  Linklater gets it SO RIGHT.  It is like watching your own life in fast forward.  This movie is a game-changer.

And finally, my favorite movie of 2014:

#1  Maps to the Stars

My favorite movies are always the ones that show just how screwed up all of us are.  Celebrities, Doctors, Regular Joes.  We are all just jacked up kids trying to survive.  This movie is a beautiful fishbowl that proves exactly that.  I fricken LOVED IT.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

"Bilbo and Company are forced to engage in a war against an array of combatants and keep the terrifying Smaug from acquiring a kingdom of treasure and obliterating all of Middle-Earth."

Rated PG-13

Let me start by saying I am not a "Hobbit" kind of girl.  I am not into Science Fiction and I only go see these types of movies to fulfill my "Criticly Duties".  So if you are expecting a big review of how close this movie was to the book, or some long diatribe about how fantastic the sci-fi effects were, you might as well stop reading.  Because I have no idea.

 How did it compare to the others in the Lord of The Rings/Hobbit family of films?  No idea.  I only saw the first one in 2001 and my memory fails me.  Nor have I read any of the books.  But I do know this, I enjoyed it very much.

I want to share a bit of the dinner conversation between me and my daughter after the movie.  (Tawni -18 - Artist/Gamer who has seen all the movies. She "got" the movie and did an excellent job keeping me up to speed with the "whos and whats" I might otherwise have missed.)  We talked at length about the epic battles of the movie, and the way they were depicted with no blood or gore.  Because of this, I think I enjoyed the movie more than I would have otherwise.  It made it a bit more family friendly.  That being said, we debated if  the absence of  the blood and guts of true battle would somehow desensitize children.  Just something to think about...

There were great life lessons - about true love and greed. Good stuff.

We saw this at the fantastic AMC BarryWoods 24 in IMAX 3D - I HIGHLY recommend you do as well.  The scenery was breathtaking.  I was blown away by the special effects. And who thinks up the creepy monsters and ogres anyway?  It was amazing.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Belle - A Sweet - and Important - Love Story

BELLE is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Captain. Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife (Emily Watson), Belle's lineage affords her certain privileges, yet the color of her skin prevents her from fully participating in the traditions of her social standing. Left to wonder if she will ever find love, Belle falls for an idealistic young vicar's son bent on change who, with her help, shapes Lord Mansfield's role as Lord Chief Justice to end slavery in England. Written by Fox Searchlight Pictures

My favorite movies are often those based on a true story, and I love historical romance.  Add in a story line in which an underdog wins, and you have me hook line and sinker.  That is exactly where I found myself while watching Belle.  

It is my sincerest hope Gugu Mbatha-Raw finds herself nominated this awards season.  What a beautiful, talented actress!

This one is already available online - you can see it now on Amazon instant streaming.  I highly recommend!

Rated PG

Interstellar....a disappointment

In the near future, Earth has been devastated by drought and famine, causing a scarcity in food and extreme changes in climate. When humanity is facing extinction, a mysterious rip in the space-time continuum is discovered, giving mankind the opportunity to widen its lifespan. A group of explorers must travel beyond our solar system in search of a planet that can sustain life. The crew of the Endurance are required to think bigger and go further than any human in history as they embark on an interstellar voyage into the unknown. Coop, the pilot of the Endurance, must decide between seeing his children again and the future of the human race. Written by Warren D'Souza

Rated PG13

The bad part of living in the middle of nowhere is having to drive about an hour to participate in a movie "experience" - meaning 3D/Imax stuff.  Since I am not a sci-fi fan, this doesn't usually present much of a problem. It's not like I needed IMAX to see Ben Affleck's package in Gone Girl...(wait maybe I did because I TOTALLY missed it)

Anyway - it took me a while to get to Interstellar because of my geographic challenges.  I was listening to all the advice about - YOU MUST SEE IT IN 3D etc.

Fast forward to a free Saturday and a willing date (daughter Tawni) and yesterday I found myself  all settled in at  the beautiful AMC Barrywoods IMAX Theater.

Maybe I am just not smart enough.  I didn't understand Inception - what made me think I would be able to follow Interstellar?   I just thought it was was too deep - I needed a notepad to keep track of everything.  

My apologies to everyone who is going on and on about this film - to all those folks who are buying the ticket that allows a person to see it as many times as they want. Seriously?  But Why?

I did enjoy all the previews in IMAX though - especially the Exodus God & Kings it wasn't a complete loss.