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.Continue 》
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…
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.Continue 》
I’m fascinated by America’s current fixation with Marie Kondo. I’ve been familiar with the KonMari method for years now, from an old boss who eagerly anticipated getting their hands on the English translation of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up back in 2014. And though I had an inkling that Kondo’s gentle, thoughtful approach to organization had the potential to reach the upper echelons of spirited office lunch hour conversations, I never would have imaged that this cheery, shiny-haired tidying fairy could actually cause thrift stores across the country to restrict their intake due to an overwhelming increase in donations.
Not only has Kondo caused the creation of a slew of new memes, a dedicated r/konmari subreddit with over 40k followers, and an entirely new verb, but thanks in part to her wildly popular Netflix series, it seems that Kondo and her methods have sent more than a few cultural pundits into a typing frenzy. Read on for a curated list of articles about the internet’s latest obsession, from an assessment of “the privilege of clutter,” to a dissection of the not-so-subtle racist outcry against the organizing guru.Continue 》
For pop culture junkies, it’s easy to go way too hard at the Vulture Festival knowing that you could be getting the inside scoop on Syfy’s Deadly Class one moment and touring Grand Central Market with Phil Rosenthal and Nancy Silverton the next. We learned our lesson from last year and paced ourselves accordingly on Sunday, focusing on a handful of the festival’s returning “signature” events. Read on for some of our favorite moments from Day Two.Continue 》
Deftly avoiding a sophomore slump, the Vulture Festival was back in Los Angeles for the second year in a row, and this year’s lineup was just as jam-packed as the inaugural iteration. Not only did the festival host conversations with cultural icons such as Cynthia Nixon and Busy Philipps, but it also had panels with new fan faves such as Constance Wu (Fresh Off the Boat and Crazy Rich Asians) and Lana Condor (To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and Syfy’s Deadly Class), as well as a handful of pretty nutty feature events—improvised musical podcast taping with special guest Rachel Bloom, anyone? Read on for some of Dinner Party’s favorites from Day One.Continue 》
For the record: I loved the film adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s bestselling novel. I’m a self-professed romantic comedy junkie who frequently gets suckered into watching any movie even remotely resembling the genre. On top of that, I’m an Asian American constantly tip-toeing the line between being “too Asian” in some contexts and “not Asian enough” in others. I am this movie’s target demographic.
That said, I also grew up in the Philippines during the era of Flor Contemplacion. For those unfamiliar, Contemplacion was a Filipino domestic worker who was charged with murder and executed by the Singaporean government. Her death caused a political firestorm, souring relations between the Philippines and Singapore for years after, as well as sparking a renewed interest in the treatment of OFWs and the intersection of class, ethnicity, and power in the geopolitical sphere. Needless to say, I’m always curious to see how—but more often than not, if—filmic portrayals address this tangled web of issues.
And so, although I cherish the opportunity to watch a glitzy Hollywood rom-com starring a bunch of people who look a lot like me—I think it’s worth spending the time to take stock of the discussions surrounding Crazy Rich Asians, both good and bad. Because even if it didn’t rake in over $160 million at the box office, the film still has all the trappings of a movie that launches a thousand think pieces—and thankfully not the kind that has to explain “Whitewashing 101.” Read on for a small, curated slice of these conversations, from articles criticizing the film’s treatment of ethnic minorities in Singapore to writers celebrating the fact that this movie has moved us along just enough that we’re now able to discuss the delicate nuances of Asian identity in a global context.Continue 》