When I Look Into the Mirror

When I look into the mirror, I’m afraid of what I see.
There’s no way this misshapen thing could actually be me.
His eyes are sunken in his head; his skin is sickly pale.
His broken heart is pounding like a hammer on a nail.
His hands are clenched like iron and his knees prepared to jerk.
His wrists show where a razor blade performed its wicked work.
The paths are etched within his cheeks where lonely tear drops ran.
The image that he sketches is a creature, not a man.
The eyes that saw the judgment written in a stranger’s frown.
The ears that heard the lies, that like the rain came pouring down.
The feet that paced around the room until they nearly bled.
The hand that almost put a gun against his burned-out head.
And in his mind, the endless words that keep him up at night.
That penetrate like venom from a viper’s piercing bite.
“You’ll never have the things you want; you’ll always be outdone.
You’ll never know the feelings of hope, or joy, or fun.
You’re hated by the ones you love; you’ll never have a friend.
The world would all be happy if your horrid life would end.”
I tell myself this face I’m seeing isn’t really me.
He’s just an apparition; that’s all that he could be.
And so I leave the mirror now, and turn to walk away.
Pretending that he isn’t there will get me through the day.
I know one day he’ll kill me if I don’t do something soon,
But I’d rather just continue to pretend that I’m immune.
Far easier to leave him there than let him face the light.
I’ll just keep on denying, though I know it isn’t right.
When I look into the mirror, I’m afraid of what I see.
There’s no way this misshapen thing could actually be me.

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You’re the Only One for Me

Beneath a sky of diamond and the gentle summer breeze,
We walked beside the riverbank and sat among the trees.
She leaned against my shoulder as we watched the water shine.
I put my arm around her and she put her hand in mine.
I said to her, “I love you, and my love you’ll always be.
I cannot love another. You’re the only one for me.

“Ever since I met you, you’ve been ever on my mind.
At last I understand why people say that love is blind.
I only want to be with you each day that passes by,
And the time I spend without you always makes me want to cry.
When I close my eyes to dream at night, you’re all that I can see.
I cannot love another. You’re the only one for me.

“For all my life I’ve wanted love so oft’ to me denied.
All those I’ve loved have come and gone like the ever-flowing tide.
But now that you are here with me, I finally am whole.
You’re everything I’d ever want with all my heart and soul.
Your love is like a lighthouse to a man who’s lost at sea.
I cannot love another. You’re the only one for me.

“Whenever I was crying, and when I was incomplete,
You wiped away my tears, and then you put me on my feet.
You bring out the best in me; you’re patient when I fail.
I falter when I’m on my own, but with you I prevail.
Just as the flowers bloom in spring, our love was meant to be.
I cannot love another. You’re the only one for me.

“I promise I’ll be by your side, whatever life may bring.
If only you will promise that to me you’ll always cling.
Just tell me that your love for me is true as mine is true.
Just tell me that you’ll grant my wish to always be with you.
Just tell me that our love will last as long as birds fly free.
I cannot love another. You’re the only one for me.”

She turned her head to look at me, and gently squeezed my hand.
Within her eyes, there was enough for me to understand.
She said, “Through all my lonely life, true love I’ve never known.
But you were there for me when I was sinking like a stone.
There’s not a man in all the world with whom I’d rather be.
I cannot love another. You’re the only one for me.”

We sat beneath the diamond sky and felt the summer breeze.
We watched the river flowing by and leaned against the trees.
We rested in each other’s arms and held each other tight.
We stayed there though the afternoon, and on into the night.
When I am with her, there is simply nowhere else to be.
I cannot love another. She’s the only one for me.

My Academy Award Predictions and Favorite Films of 2017

2017 was an amazing year for movies, and now is the time when I like to predict which ones will win Hollywood’s highest honors at tonight’s Academy Awards. The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and Lady Bird have all won equivalent prizes at the year’s other awards ceremonies, and so it looks to me that one of these three will win Best Picture at the Oscars. The most popular prediction seems to be The Shape of Water, which has the most nominations of the year (thirteen) and has already won multiple awards in many different categories at other awards ceremonies. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, my favorite of the nominees, won the Golden Globe for Best Picture – Drama, and the Academy may follow suit in awarding it their highest accolade. However, my (figurative) money is on Lady Bird, which is not only a film of excellent quality, but is also socially relevant and historic, with writer/director Greta Gerwig being the fifth woman in history to be nominated for the Best Director Oscar. In the year of the #MeToo movement, and in the midst of a national conversation about the exclusion of women from male-dominated industries like Hollywood, the Academy may want to honor a film that brings female talent to the forefront and will undoubtedly have a positive impact on young women hoping to enter the film industry.

Here are my personal top ten films of 2017, followed by my Academy Award predictions, arranged for each category by what I think will win, what I think could win (two for Best Picture because of the number of nominees), and what my personal favorite nominee was.

My Top Ten Films of 2017:
1. Baby Driver
2. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
3. Molly’s Game
4. Dunkirk
5. The Lost City of Z
6. Get Out
7. Lady Bird
8. Coco
9. Logan
10. The Disaster Artist

2018 Academy Award Predictions:

Best Picture
Will Win: Lady Bird
Could Win: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Could Win: The Shape of Water
Personal Favorite: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Director
Will Win: Guillermo Del Toro (The Shape of Water)
Could Win: Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk)
Personal Favorite: Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk)

Best Actor
Will Win: Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour)
Could Win: Timothée Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name)
Personal Favorite: Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour)

Best Actress
Will Win: Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
Could Win: Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water)
Personal Favorite: Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Best Supporting Actress
Will Win: Allison Janney (I, Tonya)
Could Win: Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird)
Personal Favorite: Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird)

Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
Could Win: Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project)
Personal Favorite: Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Best Adapted Screenplay
Will Win: James Ivory (Call Me By Your Name)
Could Win: Virgil Williams and Dee Rees (Mudbound)
Personal Favorite: Aaron Sorkin (Molly’s Game)

Best Original Screenplay
Will Win: Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird)
Could Win: Jordan Peele (Get Out)
Personal Favorite: Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Best Animated Feature
Will Win: Coco
Could Win: The Breadwinner
Personal Favorite: Coco

Best Animated Short Film
Will Win: Dear Basketball
Could Win: Revolting Rhymes
Personal Favorite: Lou

Best Cinematography:
Will Win: Blade Runner 2049
Could Win: Dunkirk
Personal Favorite: Dunkirk

Best Costume Design
Will Win: Phantom Thread
Could Win: The Shape of Water
Personal Favorite: Phantom Thread

Best Documentary Feature:
Will Win: Faces Places
Could Win: Last Men in Aleppo

Best Documentary Short
Will Win: Heroin(e)
Could Win: Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405

Best Live Action Short
Will Win: DeKalb Elementary
Could Win: The Silent Girl

Best Foreign Language Film
Will Win: The Square
Could Win: A Fantastic Woman

Best Film Editing
Will Win: Dunkirk
Could Win: Baby Driver
Personal Favorite: Baby Driver

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Will Win: Darkest Hour
Could Win: Victoria & Abdul
Personal Favorite: Darkest Hour

Best Production Design
Will Win: Blade Runner 2049
Could Win: The Shape of Water
Personal Favorite: Blade Runner 2049

Best Original Score
Will Win: Alexandre Desplat (The Shape of Water)
Could Win: Johnny Greenwood (Phantom Thread)
Personal Favorite: Carter Burwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Best Original Song
Will Win: Remember Me (Coco)
Could Win: This is Me (The Greatest Showman)
Personal Favorite: Remember Me (Coco)

Best Sound Editing
Will Win: Dunkirk
Could Win: Blade Runner 2049
Personal Favorite: Dunkirk

Best Sound Mixing
Will Win: Dunkirk
Could Win: Baby Driver
Personal Favorite: Baby Driver

Best Visual Effects
Will Win: Blade Runner 2049
Could Win: War for the Planet of the Apes
Personal Favorite: Blade Runner 2049

Before You Went Away

I never said I loved you before you went away.
I always told myself I’d tell you on another day.
But like a leaf in autumn, one morning you were gone.
And I wait here, hoping you’ll return, as the lonely days drag on.
I walk out in the garden to ease my anxious mind
But there you are around me, before me and behind.
The daffodils are blooming under morning’s golden ray.
They look the way that you did, before you went away.
The sun is shining brightly, the way your face would shine.
The river is like your eyes, smooth and crystalline.
The leaves are dancing in the wind the way my heart would dance
Whenever I was near to you or when I caught your glance.
Standing out here all alone, I cannot help but feel
An emptiness inside me that I cannot conceal.
My heart is like a lonely cloud upon an aimless breeze.
My soul is like a rowboat lost beneath the raging seas.
I’ve tried to fool myself to think this feeling I can kill.
I tell myself that you’ll return, but I know you never will.
Now the sun has set, and all the stars are drifting by.
Their light is dim and flickers like a match about to die.
Enveloped in their cold embrace, I think back to a day
When dreams were not so distant, nor hope so far away.
I’m sinking underneath the waves of oceans vast and deep.
I pray that I will never wake as I lie down to sleep.
And as I try to find the rest I know I’ll never find,
A nagging thought persists within my sad and worn-out mind.
A thought I know will follow me until my dying day:
I never said I loved you before you went away.

Autism Acceptance Month

This April, I’m sure there will be a lot of people spreading so-called “autism awareness.” Because apparently, once you are aware that a condition called “autism” exists, you have done all you need to do to help autistic people. Of course, all you’ve actually done is useless posturing to feel good about yourself, and if useless posturing does make you feel good about yourself, then I think you should seriously examine your moral standards. In fact, many people who spread “autism awareness” don’t even know what autism is. The way I like to describe autism is with an analogy. There are two main types of computers: Macs and PCs. Both are computers, but they use different operating systems. Neither is a broken version of the other. They’re different computers with different ways of processing information and different ways of functioning. That’s basically what autism is. It’s a different operating system. Autistic people are people who have a different type of neurology than neurotypical people. However, most people don’t think about it that way. To continue the analogy, they think of a Mac as a broken PC, and they think the solution is to reprogram all Macs into PCs. But if they did that, they would miss the unique abilities and contributions that the Mac has to offer. In the same way, many people want to “cure” autism. They think of autistic people as broken neurotypical people that need to be reprogrammed through things like behavioral therapy. But you can’t reprogram a human being. And if you tried, you would miss the unique abilities and contributions that person has to offer. However, people don’t need to be useful to be valuable. Autistic people deserve to be accepted and valued because they are people, just as all people deserve to be accepted and valued because they are people. Being aware that autistic people exist is not good enough. It doesn’t take any work. It doesn’t do any good. Acceptance takes work. It takes understanding, and actually making an effort to include people in a real and meaningful way. It means accepting that the way you view and process the world isn’t the only one, and isn’t the only correct one. It means working to create a world where everyone is treated equally, and where everyone’s contributions are valued. Let’s stop spreading autism awareness and start working toward something better: autism acceptance.

Oscar Predictions 2017

As someone who loves movies and hopes to one day make them, one of my favorite hobbies is analyzing movie awards. I think it’s fascinating to try and judge which movies critics and in this case, Academy voters, will deem the best. Not to brag, but I’ve been reasonably successful in my previous attempts, with two thirds of my picks being correct last year, and with all my picks in the major categories being correct the two years before that. (I only started predicting every category last year.) This year, I thought I would share my predictions in case anyone is interested or wants to debate them with me. I’ve predicted my favorite movie of the year, La La Land, in eleven categories. I think it’s unlikely that it will win that many, but if it does, it would only be the fourth film in Oscar history to do so, after Ben-Hur, Titanic, and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. La La Land has already tied the all time record for nominations (fourteen) with All About Eve and Titanic, so the concept of it tying the record for wins is definitely not out of the question. If you’re wondering why I would predict it in eleven categories if I think it’s unlikely to win, it’s because on an individual basis, it’s a strong contender in each category I’ve predicted it in, and as such, it’s harder to predict which categories it will not win than which it will. In other words, my predictions are what I think will win, but I’m not necessarily confident about all of them. Here are my predictions for the 89th Academy Awards:

Best Picture:
Will Be: La La Land
Could Be: Moonlight

Best Actor:
Will Be: Denzel Washington, Fences
Could Be: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Best Actress:
Will Be: Emma Stone, La La Land
Could Be: Isabelle Huppert, Elle

Best Supporting Actor:
Will Be: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Could Be: Dev Patel, Lion

Best Supporting Actress:
Will Be: Viola Davis, Fences
Could Be: Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

Best Animated Film
Will Be: Zootopia
Could Be: Kubo and the Two Strings

Best Cinematography:
Will Be: La La Land
Could Be: Moonlight

Best Costume Design:
Will Be: La La Land
Could Be: Jackie

Best Director:
Will Be: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Could Be: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Best Documentary Feature:
Will Be: O.J.: Made in America
Could Be: I Am Not Your Negro

Best Documentary Short:
Will Be: The White Helmets
Could Be: Joe’s Violin

Best Film Editing:
Will Be: La La Land
Could Be: Arrival

Best Foreign Language Film:
Will Be: The Salesman
Could Be: Toni Erdmann

Best Makeup and Hairstyling:
Will Be: Star Trek Beyond
Could Be: Suicide Squad

Best Original Score:
Will Be: La La Land
Could Be: Moonlight

Best Original Song:
Will Be: City of Stars, La La Land
Could Be: How Far I’ll Go, Moana

Best Production Design:
Will Be: La La Land
Could Be: Hail, Caesar!

Best Animated Short Film:
Will Be: Piper
Could Be: Blind Vaysha

Best Live Action Short Film:
Will Be: Ennemis Interieurs
Could Be: Silent Nights

Best Sound Editing:
Will Be: Hacksaw Ridge
Could Be: La La Land

Best Sound Mixing:
Will Be: La La Land
Could Be: Hacksaw Ridge

Best Visual Effects:
Will Be: The Jungle Book
Could Be: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Will Be: Moonlight
Could Be: Arrival

Best Original Screenplay:
Will Be: La La Land
Could Be: Manchester by the Sea

 

Moana

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My rating: 5/5

“I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter. With the laugh comes the tears and in developing motion pictures or television shows, you must combine all the facts of life— drama, pathos, and humor.” -Walt Disney

The Disney company has always focused on delivering the best family-friendly entertainment the movie industry has to offer, and Moana continues that trend. Moana is a fresh, funny, and brilliantly animated film with all the heart, music, and majesty of a Disney classic. It takes a familiar story concept and breathes new life into it with entertaining, three-dimensional characters, some amazing visuals, and the best soundtrack I’ve heard all year.

Moana’s plot concerns the titular character’s journey to reverse a curse caused by a demigod named Maui, who stole an object called the Heart of Te Fiti from its home island. Although it may at first seem like a generic hero’s journey plot, it actually proves to be quite original, adding its own twists and depth to create an entirely new story. Talented voice actors complement intricate character animation, adding up to entertaining, inspired characters with personality to spare. In addition, the Polynesian culture that forms the story’s backdrop doesn’t just stay in the background; it’s an integral part of the plot, characters, visuals, and music. For example, all the actors are Polynesian, there are extended musical sequences entirely in Polynesian, the photorealistic animation makes you feel like you’re really in the Pacific islands, and the whole film feels like a Polynesian myth, with strong integration of Polynesian mythology and culture fully immersing you in its world. Complementing the story, the visuals are spectacular. The cinematography combined with the animation makes some truly beautiful shots that look like they could be framed and put in a museum.

While Moana is masterfully directed and excels on every level, the real star of the film is the music, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Opetaia Foa’i, and Mark Mancina. It’s a perfect blend of modern musical and lyrical techniques, traditional Polynesian music, and Disney’s traditional formula, feeling classic and new at the same time. The music perfectly encapsulates and expresses every emotion and story beat, as well as powerfully conveying the majesty and grandeur of the film as a whole.

A refreshingly original take on a time-honored story framework, Moana doesn’t just approximate a Disney classic, it is a Disney classic. In fact, it’s the exact kind of movie that made me love movies in the first place. Disney has always been at the cutting edge of entertainment, and particularly animation, and their best stories have always combined the best artistry that movies have to offer to tell stories that speak to the deepest levels of the human soul. They inspire us to chase our dreams, to never give up, to value friendships, and to bring out the best in each other. They remind us that even though the world is a dark and evil place, good can, and will, always triumph. Moana is an authentic masterpiece that continues that grand storytelling tradition. Walt Disney would be proud.

Information:

Release date | November 23, 2016

MPAA Rating | PG (for peril, some scary images, and brief thematic elements)

Director | John Musker & Ron Clements

Distributor | Disney