Longform

Special Edition Outtakes & Excerpts #3: On Speed

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I once worked in a restaurant where the customer had to be greeted within seconds of approaching the bar—or else our manager would rush over and drop a menu, smiling almost aggressively as if to make up for my supposed negligence of their presence. Later, I would be reprimanded for not tending to their needs immediately. My manager would raise an eyebrow. Immediately.

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Special Edition Outtakes & Excerpts #2: SGV

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I’m back in the San Gabriel Valley to have dinner with a good friend. Ivy—she’s just moved back from two years teaching English in Korea, and she’s living temporarily in our hometown of Arcadia while contemplating her next move. I live only about 30 miles away on the Westside of LA, but my parents have moved away from the area, and now I rarely make it back. It’s a chance to get my hair cut by an Asian lady, stock up at the Chinese grocery store, and see what’s changed.

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Special Edition Outtakes & Excerpts #1: Enjoying the In-Between

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Fran and Emma (2016) by Kate Mitchell

I sat with my back against a hundred-year-old grave marker, eighteen years old, the promise of liberty as a soon-to-be-college-student pumping adrenaline through my veins. Michael kept close. He knew the graveyard creeped me out a little. It was February and a few degrees below freezing—the perfect excuse to sit side-by-side, knees touching. Funny how quickly intimacy can blossom between strangers.

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Movies

What It’s Like to Watch Every 2019 Oscar-Nominated Film, Volume Three

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Dearest readers, I must admit that I felt some major fatigue during this last leg of watching the final eleven Oscar-nominated films and remaining two shorts categories. As with the last batch, I dreaded having to watch some of these films, for reasons outlined below. But, I finished—and found myself pleasantly surprised by a handful of nominees. Read on for Volume Three.

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Movies

What It’s Like to Watch Every 2019 Oscar-Nominated Film, Volume Two

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In Volume One, I discussed the fourteen films I saw before the Oscar nominations were announced. Those were films I had wanted to see on my own before I decided to challenge myself to watch every single Oscar-nominated film this year. For this round, I’ll be discussing twelve features and one shorts category, which I selected chiefly because I found myself in a now-or-never situation since they were about to leave theaters. Most of them only have one or two nominations, and two are Best Picture contenders.

Overall, I found quite a few surprises with this batch—both good and bad. Because some of these films did let me down, I felt myself losing steam and motivation to watch a film each night. That said, I did do this to myself, and I am committed to this journey. So without further ado, here’s Volume Two…

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Movies

What It’s Like to Watch Every 2019 Oscar-Nominated Film, Volume One

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As a costume designer who moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the entertainment industry, it should come as no surprise that I love Oscar season. In grade school, I wore prom dresses while watching the telecast in my living room, and in college, I invited friends over for Oscar-watching parties. Once, I even won a ticket to the Oscar Red Carpet Fan Experience, and I’m staring at an Oscar poster as I write this piece. As someone who practically lives for this particular awards show, I try to make it a point to see as many nominated films as possible. Last year was a personal best—I saw every single Best Picture nominee before the nominations were announced.

This year proved to be a different story. Between the decline of MoviePass, my reluctance to join another movie theatre subscription service, and what I can only describe as a sleepy, lackluster awards season, I had only seen half of the Best Picture nominees by nomination day, alongside a smattering of the other nominated films. While looking over the full nomination list, I realized that if I simply watched the rest of the Best Picture nominees, I would be well on my way to covering a vast majority of the other nomination categories—and that’s when I thought, Why not? If I was going to be critical of this awards season overall and use adjectives such as “sleepy” and “lackluster” to describe it, why not attempt to back these opinions up with substantive evidence by watching all of the nominated films?

For this Dinner Party “miniseries,” I’ll be doing the heavy lifting for you this Oscar season, chronicling my journey through watching all of the nominated films in such a condensed time frame. Read on for some of my thoughts and reactions about the fourteen films I saw before nomination day—and before I formally set out on this wild cinematic journey.

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