Things That Are Awesome, Vol. 105

The weekly roundup of things that are awesome:

  1. I saw The Wolf of Wall Street over Christmas break (and thought the movie itself was okay but Leo was flat-out great), and I’ve been thinking a lot about all the criticism it’s taking for “glorifying” shady behavior. At first, I was inclined to think the criticism was overblown, but after reading this, I’m less sure: An Open Letter to the Makers of the Wolf of Wall Street.
  2. So many interesting tidbits here: 40 Maps That Will Help You Understand the World.
  3. Here’s Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s Golden Globes Opening Monologue. Spoiler alert: it’s perfection.
  4. Disturbing yet accurate: The Cast of HBO’s Girls As American Girl Dolls.
  5. I’ve only lived here for two weeks, but I can already attest to the truth of #15 and #18: 18 Things You’re Only Afraid of If You Live in Geneva.
  6. Because everyone knows Puppy Bowl > Super Bowl: The 2014 Puppy Bowl Lineup Will Tackle Your Heart.
  7. A childhood slumber party was not really a slumber party until we watched this movie: 30 Reasons Now and Then Was a Defining Childhood Movie for Girls.
  8. Pretty accurate (minus the part about Biggby Coffee, which I really don’t think is true): How to Piss Off Someone from Michigan.
  9. Believe it or not, I didn’t just include this list because #26 happens to have been taken by yours truly: 30 Instagram Photos That Will Make You Fall in Love with Ann Arbor.
  10. This is adorable and I love it: Peter Pan Proposes to Wendy Onstage. (However, it does raise a burning question – why are they singing “You Raise Me Up” in a Peter Pan performance?!?)

(Image via Entertainment Weekly)

Mini Movie Reviews: Zero Dark Thirty, Side Effects, and

zero dark thirty, side effects, admission

Zero Dark Thirty: This movie, about the search for Bin Laden, was fascinating and suspenseful. Like almost everything I’ve watched lately, it felt too long, possibly because there are two really compelling parts to this story: the actual search, and then the mission itself. Either of those stories on its own would have made for an interesting movie, but together they were pretty lengthy. Despite that, this movie is quite good – in large part due to Jessica Chastain, who basically stars in every movie nowadays (and not without good reason). As Maya, the CIA agent who ultimately finds Bin Laden, Chastain simultaneously portrays someone who is bad ass enough to stick to her convictions, but who also seems as confused and unsure of herself (and the methods she employs to find the truth) as any ordinary person would be. Grade: A-

Side Effects: I thought I would enjoy this movie more than I actually did; from the previews, I was hoping for some twisted-but-fascinating psychological drama. Instead, I got a movie that was mostly quiet and slow. There was nothing bad about the film per se – it’s well-acted and suggests some thought-provoking questions about modern medicine – but it just underwhelmed me. It also wasn’t too difficult to figure out what the big “twist” at the end was. I kept hoping for some cool reveal but, nope, it turned out pretty much how I suspected it might. Finally, I feel like between this movie and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I’ve now seen Rooney Mara portray the same character twice – the vacant, vulnerable, sullen girl. I hope she does something different for her next role. Grade: B

Admission: Where Tina Fey and Paul Rudd lead, I will follow, but I wish this movie had been better than it was. Admission is pretty much your standard issue romantic comedy, and while I love me some romantic comedies, I wish it had been a bit more inventive or clever than it was. Also, Fey’s character, Portia (who works as an admissions officer at Princeton) does something toward the end of the movie that I found pretty irredeemable, and that sort of turned me off from the film. However, despite Admission’s flaws, watching Paul Rudd be adorable for 1.5 hours is well worth the price of a ticket. Grade: B+

Image Sources: 1 / 2 / 3

Red Carpet: SAG Awards 2013

The SAG Awards are a funny little awards show: they’re televised, but not on a major network; they’re prestigious, but not on the same level as the Oscars. You almost get the sense that the actresses are sort of waiting until the Oscars to break out their big “statement” gowns. As such, the fashions last night were pretty low key – not that that would ever prevent me from talking about them. Of course.

Best Dressed:

best dressed

  • Naomi Watts: Simple but striking – I think the beading on the front is gorgeous, and I love her hair. Props to her for being my only repeat Best Dressed from the Globes (a very prestigious distinction, obviously).
  • Marion Cotillard: Leave it to everyone’s favorite French import to be one of the only women to make a daring fashion choice last night. I adore this look from head to toe; big bows are always a risky choice, but this one looks just right. I also love the fullness of her train, and her hair is straight up awesome.
  • Jennifer Garner: Seeing them side-by-side made me realize that Garner’s dress is basically the gold version of Naomi Watts’s. I suppose that means I could fault them both for being boring, but instead I’m going to argue that they’re equally awesome. Same comments as Watts: simple but stunning, great beading, lovely hair.

Honorable Mentionshonorable mentions

  • Amanda Seyfried: There were a lot of basic black and navy gowns on the red carpet last night; I was bored with most of them but not with Seyfried’s. I think it’s the train that saves her here, plus I love the funky necklace and the side-swept hair.
  • Viola Davis: She looks amazing in every color I’ve ever seen her wear, but I think this is a particularly good one for her. There’s nothing revelatory about the design of this gown – it’s your standard Grecian-inspired dress – but she’s making it work.
  • Tina Fey: The perfect combination of quirky meets intellectual meets retro glam. I love her belt – it adds just the right amount of visual interest to the gown.

Worst Dressed: worst dressed

  • Jane Lynch: Kicking of my trio of worst dressed nominees (who coincidentally all wore black) is Jane Lynch, wearing a gown with a very unfortunate top half. Are those metal studs dotting her gown? Ugh.
  • Sigourney Weaver: Another tragic top half: it looks like a black sheet is just pinned to the front of her body, making her appear completely flat and boxy. Just totally unflattering.
  • Julie Bowen: It’s baffling to me that someone as beautiful as Bowen consistently makes such odd fashion choices. Here, her violation is choosing a leather gown with funky shoulders – it just makes for a weird look.

Miscellaneous Fashion Awards of Note:

field, chastain, dockery

  • Best Color: As I mentioned, there was a flood of navy and black gowns at the SAGs last night, so it was nice to see such a gorgeous shade of purple on Sally Field. The dress itself is also quite beautiful; all awards season long, she’s done a fantastic job of dressing in a way that’s age appropriate but not matronly.
  • Best Matching Dress & Hair Combo: I loved the color of Jessica Chastain’s gown, and as I was looking at the photo, it suddenly dawned on me why: it complements her red hair so well. Overall, this look is a winner – but, is it me, or is her dress just a bit too tight?
  • Best Gothic Glamour: I don’t think the striking black gown and heavy dark makeup combo would work for everyone, but Michelle Dockery is pulling it off. However, is she flashing some side boob? How very un-Lady Mary of her.

jones, lawrence, hathaway

  • Best Risk-Taker: If there is one person who is consistently bold with her fashion choices, it’s January Jones. Sometimes it pays off and sometimes it doesn’t – and tonight, I think her look fell somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. The black strap around her neck is throwing me off here, and her hair is just a bit too much. But props to her for always experimenting with her look.
  • Most Boring: I’m not ever sure what to say about Jennifer Lawrence’s dress. She looks great, but in a very safe way. With that neckline, she needed more of a statement necklace, or something to give this look a little pizzazz. Really glad she won, though.
  • Most Disappointing: I’m still waiting for Anne Hathaway to have her knockout fashion moment this awards season; she disappointed me at the Globes and she disappointed me here too. I was annoyed by the sheer netting on top, but when I realized she was wearing a sheer overlay skirt too, this look became irredeemable. You better pull through at the Oscars, Annie.

kemper, shipka, pare

  • Most Unnecessary Bow: Remember a few paragraphs back when I said that, while Marion Cotillard’s looked nice, bows were a risky proposition? Well, Ellie Kemper illustrates why: her side bow distracts from what is otherwise a perfectly lovely gown.
  • Most Adorable: I love Kiernan Shipka – this gown is just too cute. She’s like Sally Field, but on the opposite end of the spectrum: someone who dresses appropriately for her age, while managing not to look too childish.
  • Best Retro Glam: Whenever I see Best Dressed lists after an award show, Jessica Pare is almost never on them; she seems to fly under the radar a bit. I love her, however – she seems to pull retro fashion inspiration from her own show, and that works for her.

michelle, byrne, cuoco

  • Most In Need of a Tanning Intervention: Dear Lea Michele, please lay off on the spray tanner – it’s not your friend. As for your dress: I like the color, but overall it’s a bit too plain.
  • Silliest Princess: I’m not sure what to make of Rose Byrne’s dress; it almost seems like a combination of a childish princess and a 1920s garden party attendee. Something about this gown just rubs me the wrong way. I also wish that the ruffles were only on top; the fact that they trail all the way down the dress is driving me crazy and seems like overkill.
  • Worst Hair: This is a perfectly passable dress, but Kaley Cuoco’s hair is just inexplicable – it manages both to look too puffy and too flat at the same time. And while I’m on board overall with the recent trend toward bangs (you get ‘em, FLOTUS), I don’t thing bangs are Cuoco’s friend.

fischer, bledel, danes

  • Personal Best: I have never been a fan of Jenna Fischer’s red carpet choices (I think she tends to dress way too conservatively), but this is a real high point for her. She’s dressed modestly, but she doesn’t look frumpy, she looks sleek.
  • Most Disconcerting Couple: Rory Gilmore is dating Pete Campbell in real life?!? I can barely get over this fact, but I will say that I liked Alexis Bledel’s dress – it’s a good color choice for her. Also, Kaley Cuoco, take note: this is how bangs are done.
  • Worst Makeup: I’m ambivalent about Claire Danes’s dress, but the makeup she’s sporting is just plain wrong. More specifically, her lips resemble the color of Kate Winslet’s after she spent hours floating in icy waters (and hogging that damn door) after the Titanic sank.

Did you watch the SAG Awards? And if you did, who wore your favorite looks?

Things That Are Awesome, Vol. 57


The weekly roundup of internet awesomeness:

  1. David Sedaris comes out with a new book in April. Can’t wait!
  2. 25 Handy Words That Simply Don’t Exist in English. My favorite is #1, because I could use it so, so frequently.
  3. Awesome prank: the drive-thru “ghost.” I love the employee who immediately decided to Instagram the moment.
  4. These are on point: Honest Titles for Oscar Nominated Movies.
  5. When my best friend sent me a link to this article, it pretty much made my week: The 26 Most Puzzling Pictures of Leonardo DiCaprio. So, so, so many gems.
  6. And another great Buzzfeed compilation: The 25 Most Embarrassing Destiny’s Child Coordinated Looks.
  7. Prabal Gurung is making a collection for Target. AHHHHH. It’s Jason Wu madness all over again.
  8. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler killed it at the Globes, further reinforcing my belief that we should all try to be more like them in all facets of life.
  9. If you posed the question, “If Laura were a character from Friends, who would she be?” to the people who know me best, I guarantee what everyone would answer: Chandler. Hands down. Thus, I love this article: Everything I Need to Know, I Learned from Chandler Bing.
  10. Who’s getting excited for Game of Thrones season 3? (Me). In preparation, let’s listen to the GoT kids beat box the show’s theme song. They are all adorable.

(Image via Buzzfeed)

Things That Are Awesome, Vol. 56

edith with googly eyes

This week’s roundup of all that is awesome on the internets:

  1. The 50 Funniest Tweets of 2012. So, so good.
  2. I wish more people watched Happy Endings. Maybe this Happy Endings’ Happy Wordplay video will convince you to do just that.
  3. I marathon watched Homeland over my break (which I’m still on, grad school for the win!), and this article is on point: The Stages of Getting Addicted to Homeland. The Carrie/Brody relationship is when I began to become disenchanted with the show too, but nonetheless it’s still completely addictive and I understand why everyone’s hooked (including myself). And Saul is just the best, so naturally this line from the article was my favorite: “Love Saul. Think Saul is the best character on TV and you want to nuzzle in his beard.”
  4. I know this video is kind of old, but I’ve had the link in my inbox forever and just got around to watching now – and it was as amazing as I thought it would be: Look at This Instagram.
  5. Even though I don’t think I’m quite fancy enough to pull off a list like this, I still love Kate Spade’s list of New Year’s Resolutions.
  6. I’m sure there will be many more Downton-related tumblrs over the course of the season, so here’s to the first of many: Edith with Googly Eyes. As per usual, poor Edith.
  7. This sounds fascinating: Frida Kahlo’s closet, which was locked for 58 years, is now on display. Who wants to go to Mexico City with me?
  8. My excitement over Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosting the Golden Globes is no secret. In preparation for the awesomeness of tomorrow night, you should probably review their best onscreen moments together.
  9. Vogue UK’s study of Kate Middleton’s style. I want everything in her wardrobe.
  10. Celebrities Read Mean Tweets About Themselves. Lots of gems here, but I liked the Christina Applegate one the best.

(Image via Edith with Googly Eyes)

Things That Are Awesome, Vol. 55

tinkerbell tailor solider spy

The first awesome list of the new year:

  1. The Mindy Project started a bit slow, but it’s definitely become one of my favorite shows – and it should be one of yours, too. In case you need convincing: 15 Reasons to Let The Mindy Project into Your Heart.
  2. This article is awesome: 22 Terrible Things That Must End in 2013. Of course, I will never quit Instagramming my food, but all the other things on the list should definitely go.
  3. Singer Woody Guthrie’s 1942 list of New Year’s Resolutions (or “New Years Rulin’s,” in his words) is so charming. Numbers 15, 31, and 33 make me happy.
  4. I cannot wait to watch this year’s Golden Globes. This is why. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler make everything better.
  5. Simple but brilliant: 40 Tricks You Must Know for a Much Better 2013.
  6. I have been mildly (or, perhaps, majorly) obsessed with Eddie Redmayne since watching Les Mis on Christmas day. I find him good looking in a super unconventional way, and apparently I’m not the only one: Is Eddie Redmayne Hot? (Spoiler alert: the conclusion is “yes”).
  7. The movies of 2012, all mashed up together. I’m a sucker for stuff like this.
  8. How have I never seen this before?! Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt dancing to “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?”
  9. Are you feeling sad? Look at This Fucking Puppy. Makes everything better.
  10. This gives me chills: The Letter M.

(Image via Buzzfeed)

Things That Are Awesome, Vol. 48

The weekly-ish roundup of awesome internet finds:

  1. In celebration of PBS, home of Downton Abbey, Rick Steves, Sesame Street, and plenty of other quality programming I both enjoyed as a child and enjoy now.
  2. This will go down in history as one of the best decisions ever: Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will host the Golden Globes. I can’t even.
  3. Speaking of which, here are 17 Other Things Amy Poehler and Tina Fey Should Run.
  4. This is incredibly cool: Date Stamp Art. Simple, but brilliant.
  5. One thing I always hear about Homeland is that people love to watch because Claire Danes is an epic crier. This seems like an odd detail to fixate on, but after looking at this board on Pinterest, I guess it’s true.
  6. If This Post Makes You Laugh, Then You’re a Terrible Person. These are all great, but for some reason number 8 (pictured above) just killed me.
  7. These pictures of Paul Newman & Joanne Woodward make me smile. You can just tell how in love they were.
  8. The 200 Greatest Arrested Development Quotes. Man, what a brilliant show.
  9. I love a good “Call Your Girlfriend” cover, and this one – by girls who are 8 and 12! – is excellent. Plus, they’re on Nashville which is an equally excellent show that everyone should be watching. Get on it.
  10. And finally, this tweet, via Rebel Wilson, made me laugh out loud:

(Image via Buzzfeed)

Emmys 2012: Fashion Recap

Around this time of year, guys get super pumped about Fantasy Football. This always baffles me, because I kind of detest professional football. Then, it hit me: red carpets are my Fantasy Football. Everyone’s gotta have their thing, right? Thus, I feel completely justified in obsessing over each celebrity’s outfit and writing this blog post.

The Emmys, as a telecast, were kind of awful this year. The jokes were stale, the acceptance speeches were rushed, and almost nobody I like won an award (except for Damian Lewis – yay!). The only thing that redeemed the night for me was the fashion; I thought there were a lot of solid looks (and, naturally, some awful ones too – but those are also amusing in their own way). Let’s discuss:

My Best Dressed:

  • Emilia Clarke: I liked how unique this dress was – very modern and fresh and cool. I’m also a big fan of the bold purple florals; it reminded me of Kate Middleton’s recent Prabal Gurung (which I also loved).
  • Heidi Klum: Way to kill it, Frau Klum. I seriously saw this dress and typed “HEIDI KLUM” in all caps in my notes. I mean, Heidi is just completely shutting it down – gorgeous color, lovely hair, perfect draping, the works. This was clearly meant to be a “take that, Seal” dress and it totally succeeded.
  • Tina Fey: For years, Tina Fey’s red carpet dresses have either left me sad or bored. This year, I say: finally! This dress was perfect – I loved the deep burgundy color, and the baroque detailing on top was beautiful. Get it, Liz Lemon.

Honorable Mentions:

There were a lot of great looks last night, and I had a hard time narrowing down my best dressed list to three. So, here are three other looks I adored:

  • Zooey Deschanel: I am so glad Zooey went with a ballgown over an “I’m quirky” cocktail dress with tights, as she is wont to do. This was very Cinderella-esque, but in the best possible way. I loved her hairstyle and the pale powder blue color of the dress.
  • Amy Poehler: Similarly to Tina Fey, Amy Poehler’s red carpet looks are usually tragic, making me pumped that she broke out of the rut. And similar to Heidi Klum, Poehler proved the rule that the best thing you can do for your style is go through a breakup. This was a beautiful dress, and her hair has never looked better.
  • Kerry Washington: I just adored the color of this dress – perfection (though I think it looked far more fabulous on television than it does in this photograph). In any case, this look was stunning – the exact right dress for her.

My Worst Dressed:

  • Ashley Judd: I swear, I can remember a time when Ashley Judd was a red carpet all-star (exhibit A). Her past glories make this look particularly tragic; it is terrifying from head (that awful hair) to toe (the weird way the dress fans out at the bottom). Glamorous Ashley, please come back to us.
  • Lena Headey: I am oh so sad about this look because Lena Headey is awesome and should look fierce on the red carpet, but she never does. I just don’t even know what to say about the top of this dress – it’s a messy gothic catastrophe.
  • Ginnifer Goodwin: I know it’s Ginnifer’s thing to wear avant-garde looks on the red carpet and I give her props for being daring, but this looks like a toddler glued red crepe paper atop a sheer gown. She’s so pretty; what a shame.

Other Fashion Awards of Note:

  • Best Beading: The top of Nicole Kidman’s dress is just to die for (get it?!). I’m less sold about the overall effect of her look, however – something just seems missing to me. I also would have preferred to see her hair in an updo or pulled back into a sleek ponytail.
  • Most Striking: I don’t think many people could pull this dress off, but Julianne Moore totally can (and did). Her red hair with that stark yellow dress was unexpected but amazing.
  • Most Expected Yet Still Awesome: Seriously, what else is Sofia Vergara going to wear to the Emmys? This is totally her kind of dress: curve-hugging, sparkly, and attention-grabbing, but she looks great, like a fabulous Colombian mermaid. I don’t think most people could handle this much sparkle, but she can.

  • Best Old School Glamour: I always find it interesting how the ladies of Mad Men (particularly Elisabeth Moss and Christina Hendricks) often end up dressing in classic, glamorous outfits, almost channeling their show. Jessica Pare clearly did the same, and I loved the effect: a simple but gorgeous dress and absolutely perfect hair. Seriously, love the hair.
  • Most Wonderfully True to Herself: I was so curious to see what Lena Dunham would wear, as she seems like someone who probably feels super awkward walking the red carpet. She did a nice job picking an Emmy-appropriate dress that still felt true to her. Also, her haircut is fantastic and her makeup looked great.
  • Best Indie Vibes: I loved how Leslie Mann’s dress had almost a bohemian vibe, yet still felt glamorous. I loved the vibrant yellow skirt and thought the green jewelry added just the right touch.

  • Most Adorable: Seriously, I just want to put Kiernan Shipka in my pocket. This dress was adorable – cute color, and look at her tiny little bag!
  • Best Neon: I know neon has been trendy of late, but it never seemed like something that could (or should) translate to the red carpet. But I liked Julie Bowen’s dress; she was definitely pulling the neon off. Not so sure about her hair though – maybe a tad too beachy?
  • Best Color: There’s nothing revolutionary about the silhouette of Archie Panjabi’s dress, but I’m semi-obsessed with its color. Seriously beautiful.

  • The Maize & Blue Award of Excellence: Anyone who wears Michigan colors on the red carpet grabs my attention, and I (mostly) liked Hayden Panettiere’s blue and gold Marchesa. I like the blue fabric at the bottom of the dress, but I’m less sold on the piece that’s draped over the top; it felt like a bit much.
  • The Sleek & Stunning Award: This dress was so simple, but I thought Edie Falco killed it. I love the effect of the gold belt, and she chose the perfect hairstyle for this dress.
  • Best Floral Touches: I adored Sarah Hyland’s dress overall, but it was the straps, with their delicate flower details, that truly sold me on the look. Her hair, however, feels a bit “prom” to me.

  • The Christina Hendricks Junior Award: Kat Dennings was wearing a pretty (albeit simple) dress but – let’s be honest – that’s not what’s pulling focus here. Maybe you should reign those ladies in a bit, girlfriend.
  • Best Hair: I love Christina Hendricks’s hair – perfect old school Hollywood glamour. I sort of like her dress, but the belt does not thrill me.
  • Worst Hair: Oh dear lord. Connie Britton should fire whoever did this to her hair. I mean, I just can’t. This makes me particularly sad because Connie Britton is awesome (she’s Tami Taylor, y’all!). Sidenote: I also thought this dress – and particularly its halter top – was a poor choice.

  • Most Dull, Round 1: I’m so sad about this dress; Emily VanCamp should be a red carpet all-star. This tweet pretty much sums up my frustration.
  • Most Dull, Round 2: I wish Kristen Wiig would embrace color; her red carpet looks tend to be drab. This dress is kind of delicate and pretty, but it’s also sort of blah.
  • Most Unnecessarily Matronly: I loved Mayim Bialik’s hair, but her dress has way too much fabric. I was rooting for her to have a “Rachel Leigh Cook in She’s All That” moment (aka, geeky girl goes sexy). Alas, it was not to be.

  • Best Use of a Bedsheet: I feel like Claire Danes just thought, “Screw it. I’m pregnant, so I’m just gonna drape a bed sheet over my bump and call it a day.” It’s not a terrible dress, per se, but it could use some tailoring or a little more pizazz.
  • Most Gothic: What I like about January Jones is that she is always daring on the red carpet; even when she misses, you could never accuse her of playing it safe. I’m on the fence about this look: it’s dramatic and striking, but maybe just a little too dramatic. Also, can we talk about her makeup? For a pale girl, she’s wearing far too much black makeup, and the effect is slightly terrifying.
  • Most Reminiscent of My Grandmother’s Couch: The title of the award says it all: Julianna Marguiles is wearing a dress whose fabric strongly resembles a couch my grandmother used to own. The thing is, though, I can’t decide if that makes this dress tacky or fabulous. When I initially saw it, I thought “hell, no,” but the dress is actually growing on me. I think I will call this one a winner.

  • Most Reminiscent of a Space Alien: Dear Zosia Mamet, your dress is really strange. I know you are quirky, but there’s quirky and then there’s…weird. And this is definitely the latter. Just odd.
  • Most Disappointing: Michelle Dockery’s dress saddens me; I wanted her to have a “wow” fashion moment, but it apparently was not in the cards. This dress looks dull and wrinkled.
  • The “I Can’t Believe That’s My Girl!” Award: Dear Anna Chlumsky, you look so freaking glamorous! I can’t believe it. Where has time gone?

Who were your red carpet favorites?

(Photos via People, Huffington Post, and Suicide Blonde)

Summer Reading Roundup (June)

One of my goals for this summer? Read, like a lot. I’m doing pretty well so far. This month, my book selection was diverse, to say the least: a comedic memoir, a work of historical non-fiction, and a fictional story of romance. Here’s what I read in the month of June:

Bossypants by Tina Fey: A quick and easy read. It was funny, but I expected…more, somehow? I love Tina Fey, but I didn’t love this book as much as I was sure I would. What I did love, though, were her anecdotes about working on SNL – for instance, how the sketch where she and Amy Poehler play Sarah Palin and Hilary Clinton came together. Fascinating stuff.

Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff: I love reading books about historical women in power (think Catherine de Medici, Marie Antoinette, etc), so that’s why I picked this up. It’s fascinating to learn about how Cleopatra’s image was shaped by the men who wrote about her after her death, largely to satisfy their own political agendas. Also, as a history nerd, I found it fascinating how the author approached constructing Cleopatra’s history when so much of the source material needed is either missing, incomplete, or clearly biased.

The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan: This is a love story, told through dictionary entries. It sounds gimmicky, but it’s beautifully done and was my favorite book this month. It’s also interesting to try to piece together the whole story through these fragments and scraps. This is the kind of book where I pause and read a sentence over again several times because it’s just so on point. And for the record, my favorite entries were halcyon, ineffable, and punctuate.

(Images via Babble, Washington Independent Review of Books, and Macmillan)

Oscars: Fashion Recap

Though I’ve recapped the Golden Globes, SAG Awards, and the Grammys, let’s be honest – this is the Super Bowl of red carpet fashion. So, naturally, I was pumped about the Oscar red carpet. However…I found myself underwhelmed. There was really no show-stopping look to me (I mean, nothing like this or this or this). To be sure, there were some good looks, but they were lackluster compared to past years, I thought. Here’s what I liked, what I loathed, and what fell somewhere in between.

My Best Dressed:

  • Michelle Williams: I love that she’s always true to her style – this just seemed so her. At first I wasn’t sure about the little skirt around the middle, but it grew on me. This was unique and beautiful.
  • Gwyneth Paltrow: I loved this look. Everything about it was sleek and modern – from the hair to the cut of the dress. I wasn’t a huge fan of the little cape, but everyone kept saying it was cold, so I’ll give her a pass on that.
  • Jessica Chastain: This dress took awhile to grow on me; the pattern was a little aggressive. Ultimately, though, I thought it looked bold and striking. And her hair was perfect.
  • Octavia Spencer: Adored this dress – I loved how all the lines of sparkles met in the middle of the dress’s front. Also, though it’s a small detail, I loved her earrings. Unrelated note: she made me cry when she won. Awwww!

My Worst Dressed:

  • Melissa Leo: I thought this was odd, but not in a good way. I didn’t like how the top of the dress looked almost like a shirt, and I thought the whole dress looked droopy. Very strange.
  • Melissa McCarthy: I wanted to love her dress, but I did not like the color – I thought it washed her out. I also wasn’t sure how I felt about the super sparkly collar and belt.
  • Shailene Woodley: This is a nice dress, but not on her – she’s 20 going on 45 in it! Just way too matronly. She looks like an Amish grandmother.
  • Sandra Bullock: What’s up with that top? And the weird squiggly gold belt? Is this really Marchesa?? Also, her ponytail was way too tight and severe.

Split Decision:

  • Jennifer Lopez: If not for her sleeves, I’m almost certain she would’ve been my number one best dressed. But, man – those sleeves were heinous. Her hair, makeup, and earrings were all flawless though.
  • Kristen Wiig: Love the silhouette and shape of the dress, hate the color – it almost matches her skin perfectly and thus washes her out. Her hair was also a bit beach-y for the Oscars.
  • Emma Stone: She also would’ve been a contender for overall best dressed, but I couldn’t get past the gigantic shoulder bow.
  • Cameron Diaz: The train of her dress was gorgeous, but the top was so boring – and crazy tight. Not even Cameron Diaz can pull that off.

Other Fashion Awards of Note:

  • Best Black: Okay, the thigh slit was a little out of control, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s Angelina Jolie. I haven’t been a fan of her red carpet looks all season, but I liked this one. But, please, Angelina – eat a sandwich, for the love of God.
  • Prettiest Polka Dots: I feel like polka dots plus Oscars should not work, but it does on Natalie Portman. This was a fun dress – I just wish she had done something more with her hair; it looked flat and almost a little greasy.
  • Boldest Move: Everything about Viola Davis‘s ensemble made a statement – from the color of her dress, to the wraparound detailing on the train, to her natural hair. I thought she rocked the look.
  • Best Old Hollywood Glamour: From head to toe, Penelope Cruz‘s look was simply classic. The color and cut of her dress, the length of the train, and her hairstyle all screamed quintessential Hollywood glamour. Well done.

  • Most Simultaneously Safe and Stunning: The dress was relatively simple and perhaps slightly boring, but Tina Fey looked damn good. Her hairstyle and earrings were also fantastic.
  • Most Fabulous at Any Age: I loved that Glenn Close‘s look was beautiful yet still age-appropriate. The deep emerald green color was gorgeous, and the jacket over top made it appropriate for her.
  • Fiercest Hair: I like Rose Byrne‘s dress well enough, but I’m flat-out obsessed with her hair. I think it elevates everything about her look. So dramatic.
  • Most Indicative of Her Impending Win: This dress was a lot of gold, but I thought Meryl Streep looked great. Plus, during the pre-show, E! mentioned that in something like 4 out of 10 years, the best actress winner has been wearing a gold dress. And it worked out for Meryl here, too.

  • Most in Need of a Smile: I don’t understand why Rooney Mara has chosen to act like Lisbeth Salander in real life; it’s like method acting to the extreme. You’re nominated for an Academy Award – just crack a smile already! Her hair was too severe, and something about the top of the dress felt off to me.
  • Oddest Shoulder Pads: Just when I think Maya Rudolph is making progress on her red carpet choices, she shows up in this. The top was too conservative and matronly, and the silver shoulder pads were awful.
  • Most Similar to an Actual Oscar Statuette: I’ve loved Stacy Keibler‘s dresses all season, but I did not like this one. Doesn’t she look like an Oscar herself? And that gigantic bow/ruffle/whatever on her hip was strange.
  • Most Disappointing: Since she is so stunning, I felt like Berenice Bejo should’ve been a candidate for best dressed. But this look was severely underwhelming, from the pale color to the long sleeves to the random confetti-ish pieces sprinkled all over the dress.