And the Oscars Winners Are…..

Here are the winners. Out of the ones that I predicted, I scored 8 1/2 out of 11 (I couldn’t really decide between Rourke & Penn). Not too bad! You’ll see where I didn’t predict correctly with the strike-throughs. Maybe I should take my butt to Vegas! Anyway, I am very pleased with all the awards for “Slumdog”!!!

BEST PICTURE: “Slumdog Millionaire”
ACTOR LEADING: Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler” (2nd choice: Sean Penn in “Milk”
ACTOR, SUPPORTING: Michael Shannon in “Revolutionary Road” Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight”
ACTRESS, LEADING: Kate Winslet in “The Reader”
ACTRESS, SUPPORTING: Viola Davis in “Doubt” (just hopeful.. if not Marisa Tomei in “The Wrestler”) Penélope Cruz in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
SCREENPLAY, ADAPTED: “Slumdog Millionaire”
SCREENPLAY, ORIGINAL: “Milk”
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: “Waltz with Bashir” (loved it) “Departures”
ANIMATED FEATURE: “WALL-E”
ART DIRECTION: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
CINEMATOGRAPHY: “Slumdog Millionaire”




CB’s Oscar Predictions

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Okay… with just minutes until the Oscars. I’m going to run through my selections (or predictions rather) for the awards.

BEST PICTURE: “Slumdog Millionaire”
ACTOR LEADING: Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler” (2nd choice: Sean Penn in “Milk”)
ACTOR, SUPPORTING: Michael Shannon in “Revolutionary Road”
ACTRESS, LEADING: Kate Winslet in “The Reader” (or… Meryl Streep in “Doubt”)
ACTRESS, SUPPORTING: Viola Davis in “Doubt” (just hopeful.. if not Marisa Tomei in “The Wrestler”)
SCREENPLAY, ADAPTED: “Slumdog Millionaire”
SCREENPLAY, ORIGINAL: “Milk” (I have to vote for this movie somewhere. I really enjoyed it. Although I heard Harvey Milk was portrayed a bit too stereotypical gay and effeminate than he was in real life. Hmm?)
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: “Waltz with Bashir” (loved it)
ANIMATED FEATURE: “WALL-E”
ART DIRECTION: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
CINEMATOGRAPHY: “Slumdog Millionaire”




Southern California Muslims Battle Islamophobia in a Post 9/11 World

(Note: This piece was published on Huffington Post today! Hooray!  I’d like to say that I am not Muslim, however I honor and respect all religions. I believe that we all should.)

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Terrorism. Terrorists. Since the planes flew into the World Trade towers on September 11, 2001, these words have become almost synonymous with Islam and being a Muslim. For many Islamic believers in Southern California, the aftermath of September 11 didn’t result in physical harm or even personal attacks, although there were some incidents. Muslims in Southern California express a different pain — the hurt of having their religion constantly associated with terrorism and violence.

From the front page of the daily newspaper to the broadcast channels on television, Southland Muslims said they feel the effects of this post 9/11 characterization of the religion that they care for and believe in deeply. For many, the Islam depicted in the media rarely resembles the one they practice.

“This event had a lot of effects on everybody, especially Muslims,” said Idris Traina, the President of the Board of Directors of the Islamic Center of Hawthorne, California. “The media associated this event with Islam, not a group of people who were terrorists. That’s the problem. That’s the stigma that happened with 9/11, and it has had a large effect on Muslims here and everywhere.”

Traina, who is also a member of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California estimates there are more than a half a million Muslims in the Southland. He admitted there isn’t an official census of the Muslim community, but used the figure given by the Islamic Shura Council that compiles this information. The Council, which started in 1995, is an umbrella organization of Southern California mosques and Muslims organizations.

The Islamic leaders and Muslims of Southern California expressed a consistent response concerning their present life after September. Essentially, they think their lives are plagued with a persistent misunderstanding of their religion due to Islam’s repeated association with terrorism. And many Southern California Muslims think America has developed an anti-Muslim sentiment or Islamophobia, which can be seen in the mainstream media.

“Too many Americans associate Islam with terrorism and extremism,” said Malik El-Amin, a 33-year old African American Muslim. “The American public is much more aware of Islam now than before 9/11, but the awareness derives almost entirely from negative stories, stereotypes and misconceptions.”

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life survey in 2007 found that “public attitudes about Muslims and Islam have grown more negative in recent years.” Thirty-five percent of Americans polled expressed a negative view of Muslims in 2007, up from 32 percent in 2004 and 29 percent in 2002.

In addition to negative impressions, “twice as many people use negative words as positive words to describe their impressions of the Muslim religion (30% versus 15%),” according to the 2007 Pew Report. The survey also found that “fanatic”, “radical” and “terror” were the most frequently used words to describe Islam.

The American association of the Muslim religion with words like “fanatic” and “terror” serve as examples to what many people now call Islamophobia, which has become a recognized form of intolerance alongside Xenophobia and Anti-Semitism since the 2001 “Stockholm International Forum on Combating Intolerance.”

(more…)




For Some of Us, The Super Bowl Ads Stole the Show

Even though I’m not a big football fan, the Super Bowl last night was a lot of fun for me. In addition to the suspenseful and action-packed game, I watched all the great and not-so-great advertisements. Even in these tough economic times, there are companies shelling out the $3 million for a 30-second Super Bowl ad slot. (I’m not mad at them. Maybe these companies can teach the others some fiscal lessons?) And the ad themes have changed from luxury and free spending to budget cuts and few perks at the office. Even the car ads have seen a big shift, namely American cars are out (no bailout money spent on ads) and Japanese and German cars are in.

Speaking of German cars, Audi had a great ad “The Chase” using the Back to the Future movie theme. (The A6 is such a gorgeous car!)

And the Doritos “Crystal Ball” ad plays into the hard economic times and the lure of getting free chips! Don’t we all wish we had a crystal ball to predict the future.

And if you missed the Super Bowl ads, you can visit Super Bowl FanHouse, Super-Bowl Ads.com and even TIME magazine’s piece to see the crazy ads that provided just as much entertainment for some of us as the game.

-The Caramel Bella




Much Anticipated Academy Awards Nomination Post…

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Okay, I have a confession. I am REALLY into the Academy Awards. And unlike the millions of entertainment and celebrity folks out there who tune in Oscar night to see the fashions, I watch to find out if my favorite movies won. (Although I must admit, the fashions are a bonus!)

This year (due to graduate school), I am dreadfully behind on my movies. I’ve only seen a couple of the ones in contention. And over the next coming weeks, I will do my best to see all of the movies in the main categories. (I do this every year – run around like a chicken with my head cut-off to see most of the Oscar movies before the show.)

So, over the next couple of weeks, you will have to bear with my film posts. And truthfully, I will be posting more film reviews too. If you don’t have time to check out the films yourself, be sure to drop by and check out what I thought and leave your comments. I’d love to hear what you think of the movies too. (The Academy doesn’t always select the “right” ones. LOL)

Below are the contenders (as well as my thoughts on the movies)!!!

BEST PICTURE

  1. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  2. “Frost/Nixon”
  3. “Milk”
  4. “The Reader”
  5. “Slumdog Millionaire”

This is the category that is the MUST SEE group. In order to have an even remotely serious conversation about movies this year, you need to see the flicks in this group. I’m playing a bit of catch-up this year. I’ve only seen “Reader” and “Slumdog” out of this group. And both movies were fantastic. I haven’t seen all of these films *yet*, but I’m in love with “Slumdog.” (Damn, why didn’t I write a review.) I heart’d the movie in a big way (yes, I’m gushing a little). I also really liked “Reader.” Super powerful movie. Yet, for me, “Slumdog” has eeked out a lead for me.

It’s equally important to point out that the same movies were nominated for the Golden Globes Best Picture – Drama award. And my fav, “Slumdog” was the winner. Nuff said.

ACTOR, LEADING

visitor_jenkinsrfrostnixon_langellafmilk_pennscuriouscaseofbenjaminbutton_piwrestler_rourkem

  1. Richard Jenkins in “The Visitor”
  2. Frank Langella in “Frost/Nixon”
  3. Sean Penn in “Milk”
  4. Brad Pitt in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
  5. Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler”

In this category, I am way behind. I haven’t seen any of the movies up for Leading Actor. I better get to it. First on my list to see – “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “The Wrestler”. Believe it or not, I’ve heard mixed reviews on “Benjamin Button.” So, I must see for myself. And the preview for “The Wrestler” is pretty compelling. It’s not the type of movie that I would traditionally see on opening night but the drama and “realness” of the characters has peaked my interest.

Interesting to note, Leonardo DiCaprio in “Revolutionary Road” was nominated for Best Actor – Drama for the Golden Globes but not by the Academy. Hmmm.. Poor Leonardo. His performance in “Road” was good but in many ways upstaged by Kate Winslet and Michael Shannon (who played a mentally ill mathematician was chilling and intense)  in the movie. I guess that’s why they were both nominated by the Academy.

Oh, by the way, G2 (Short for Golden Globes) gave the award to Rourke for his performance in “The Wrestler.” Like I said, this movie is first on my catch-up list.

ACTOR, SUPPORTING

  1. Josh Brolin in “Milk”
  2. Robert Downey Jr. in “Tropic Thunder”
  3. Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Doubt”
  4. Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight”
  5. Michael Shannon in “Revolutionary Road”

In this category, I’ve only see “Revolutionary Road.” I should have wrote a review about it. I enjoyed the movie. The acting was superb. However, the movie was very dark and I left depressed. It is definitely not a feel-good flick. I definitely think it is a “you can’t miss this movie” kind of film. You need to see this one. (Hey, there’s your review.) I still have to see “The Dark Knight.” I wonder if the Academy would give the award to Heath Ledger, who is no longer with us. Note, Ledger won the Golden Globes award in this group.

This category truly includes actors from completely different types of movies. I’m anxious to see “The Dark Knight” and “Doubt.” I’m not so sure about “Tropic Thunder.” I don’t understand why (and not sure how I feel about) Robert Downey Jr. played a black man in the movie. (There weren’t any black actors? A little too reminiscent of “black face” for me.) With that being said, I’m still interested in seeing his skills in the role (however politically incorrect it may be.)

ACTRESS, LEADING

rachelgettingmarried_hathawayachangeling_jolieafrozenriver_leomdoubt_streepmreader_winsletk

  1. Anne Hathaway in “Rachel Getting Married”
  2. Angelina Jolie in “Changeling”
  3. Melissa Leo in “Frozen River”
  4. Meryl Streep in “Doubt”
  5. Kate Winslet in “The Reader”

This is one of my favorite categories. Maybe because I always wanted to be an actress. Anyway..I’ve seen “The Reader” and Winslet’s performance is fantastic. I haven’t seen the other movies *yet.* But, Winslet was so good in “The Reader” that either the other actresses in this category have delivered equally challenging and competitive performances? OR Winslet is going to blow the rest out of the water. My opinion obviously (especially without seeing the other movies yet), but her acting was spellbinding.

Also, Winslet won a Golden Globe award for Best Actress but for “Revolutionary Road” not “The Reader.” I’ve seen both of these films and she was amazing in both.  Hey, she also won a Golden Globe award for Best Supporting Actress for her job in “The Reader.” She’s the chick to beat this year (for real)!

First on my list to see, “Doubt” because it has folks nominated in multiple categories. Strangely though, the movie itself wasn’t nominated for best picture.

ACTRESS, SUPPORTING

  1. Amy Adams in “Doubt”
  2. Penélope Cruz in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
  3. Viola Davis in “Doubt”
  4. Taraji P. Henson in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
  5. Marisa Tomei in “The Wrestler”

I love the diversity in this category this year. Wow.. We go from Penélope Cruz to Marisa Tomei to Taraji P. Henson. Love it. I’m playing major catch-up in this group.  I need to see them all. I have several friends who really enjoyed “Vicky Cristina” so I am excited to check out this movie. And again, “Doubt” is just nominated all over the place (yet not best picture).

SCREENPLAY, ADAPTED

  1. “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
  2. “Doubt”
  3. “Frost/Nixon”
  4. “The Reader”
  5. “Slumdog Millionaire”

Don’t books make the best movies?! Well to be honest, the movie could have been adapted from a novel, play, short story or another film. This is a major award for writers (hats off to them)! It’s hard to believe that someone wrote these award-winning and nominated movies. I’m so impressed (can you tell?).

Simon Beaufoy won a Golden Globe Best Screenplay award for his writing in “Slumdog Millionaire.” I saw the movie. He deserved an award. Fantastic. I am so inspired.

SCREENPLAY, ORIGINAL

  1. “Frozen River”
  2. “Happy-Go-Lucky”
  3. “In Bruges”
  4. “Milk”
  5. “WALL-E”

This award goes to the best written screenplay. You know, who wrote the best story. (Where the acting, writing, cinematography, visual effects, sounds, makeup, etc. come together is Best Picture.)  “WALL-E” is nominated here as well as in other categories, which makes it a must-see film for me.

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

  1. “The Baader Meinhof Complex”
  2. “The Class”
  3. “Departures”
  4. “Revanche”
  5. “Waltz with Bashir”

I’ve only seen one movie in this category – “Waltz with Bashir.” This is one of those movies where you never planned on seeing it but are so thankful that you did. Loved this movie. I thought it was great. It was creative, interesting, compelling, bewitching, different, educational and moving. It was an animated documentary. I do have a movie review for this one, which I will post. If you haven’t seen this movie, you should. It’s creative genius.  As for the others, I will do my best to see at least one of the other flicks, probably “The Baader Meinhof Complex.” It was also nominated for the Golden Globes award…. However, no surprise to me, “Waltz with Bashir” took home the GG.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

  1. “The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)”
  2. “Encounters at the End of the World”
  3. “The Garden”
  4. “Man on Wire”
  5. “Trouble the Water”

DOCUMENTARY SHORT

  1. “The Conscience of Nhem En”
  2. “The Final Inch”
  3. “Smile Pinki”
  4. “The Witness – From the Balcony of Room 306″

If I had all the time in the world, I would check out every single movie in these two categories. Last semester I had the privilege (and equal parts agony) of taking a documentary class in graduate school. It has hands-down been my hardest class. We had to create 3 documentaries in 1 semester. The class made me crazy but I learned a lot. I have tremendous respect for documentaries because unlike traditional feature flicks, the content is unscripted. People don’t do or say what you want them to. And you have to create a comprehensible, interesting and compelling movie out of whatever you film — which is no small challenge. There is truly an art to uncovering, illiciting and capturing the stories, images and sound that you need. So for the documentarian in me, I’d like to see all these films.. We’ll see how far I get.

ANIMATED FEATURE

  1. “Bolt”
  2. “Kung-Fu Panda”
  3. “WALL-E”

Now all of you mothers and fathers out there have a definite advantage in this category. Many of you were dragged to the theaters by your kids to see these films. I, sadly, am childless and have not seen any of these flicks. (BTW, sadly refers to not seeing these films not being child-free…..children may come in time. LOL) Yet, I digress because you don’t need children to go see these films. Several friends of mine have seen “WALL-E” and loved it. It is first on my list to see. Apparently, it deals with the extinction of the human race. Heavy stuff for an animated film.

SHORT FILM, ANIMATED

  1. “La Maison en Petits Cubes”
  2. “Lavatory – Lovestory”
  3. “Oktapodi”
  4. “Presto”
  5. “This Way Up”

I haven’t seen any of the films nominated for Short Animated Film. I often don’t get to the films in this category (just not enough time). If I had to chose one to see, I’d pick “Lavatory – Lovestory.” The title is intriguing for a romantic like me.

DIRECTING

  1. “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
  2. “Frost/Nixon”
  3. “Milk”
  4. “The Reader”
  5. “Slumdog Millionaire”

ART DIRECTION

  1. “Changeling”
  2. “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
  3. “The Dark Knight”
  4. “The Duchess”
  5. “Revolutionary Road”

CINEMATOGRAPHY

  1. “Changeling”
  2. “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
  3. “The Dark Knight”
  4. “The Reader”
  5. “Slumdog Millionaire”

ORIGINAL SCORE

  1. “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
  2. “Defiance”
  3. “Milk”
  4. “Slumdog Millionaire”
  5. “WALL-E”

ORIGINAL SONG

  1. “Down to Earth” from “WALL-E”
  2. “Jai Ho” from “Slumdog Millionaire”
  3. “O Saya” from “Slumdog Millionaire”

I’m just glad that there aren’t any songs about pimps and hos in this category this year. (Yes, I may be hating but really….now really… why should that song win?!)  And I really liked the songs in “Slumdog Millionaire.” It’s amazing that two are nominated from the same movie.

*****

There are some additional categories like Makeup, Sound Editing and Film Editing that I didn’t include here. You can visit the Oscar site to see the full list.

Ooh, I’m so excited. I love this time of year. I just wish for more hours in the day to watch and watch and watch movies. Send me your thoughts! Post comments. What are your favorite movies? Who should win?

I can’t wait until February 22nd at 5 PM PST/ 8 PM EST!!! In the meantime, I’ve got a lot to see. Here’s a treat (for reading this whole post). Check out M.I.A.’s video for “Paper Planes” remix for “Slumdog Millionaire” below. Although I like the original version best, this video gives you a taste of the Slumdog movie love.

Ciao for now.
xxxoo,

The Caramel Bella




Wanda Sykes Discusses Gay Marriage on The Jay Leno Show

For those of you that didn’t know Wanda Sykes was gay, here she is on “The Jay Leno Show” discussing gay marriage, Proposition 8 and how she believes gay marriage is about equal rights. She brings humor to a very sensitive subject.




Kanye vs. Colbert: The Arrogance Challenge

On Monday’s “The Colbert Report,” Stephen Colbert called out Kanye West for his arrogance to think he was the voice of this generation in this decade. And to counter West’s superiority complex, Colbert showcased his own and challenged West to an iTunes download sell off. Check out the video.




Letterman’s Top Ten Excuses For Palin’s Turkey Slaughter Interview

In the spirit of Thanksgiving around the corner, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin pardoned a turkey. However, during her turkey-themed interview, the cameraman catches a poor turkey being slaughtered in the background (which Palin appears not to notice) in the now-infamous video. Well, funny man David Letterman’s “Top Ten” list Monday gave Palin’s excuses for the turkey kill, which poked fun at her foreign policy (in)experience and earlier Katie Couric interview among other campaign blunders.




Couric Gives Letterman the Details on Her Palin Interview

Many of us saw and held our breath as Republican vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, conducted one of her first on-camera interviews following her nomination with Katie Couric a couple of months ago. There were several moments during the questioning that Palin was stumped and had a difficult time answering the questions. Couric talks for the first time about the interview on “The Dave Letterman Show” recently. Check out the clip from the interview.




Reality TV Star “New York” Apologizes to Jennifer Hudson

I don’t know if you all have seen reality TV star, Tiffany “New York” Pollard’s, apology to Jennifer Hudson. Apparently, she said some awful things to Hudson about her fiance, David “Punk” Otunga (who was on I Love New York 2), being sexually-ambiguous. Although I don’t normally get into the rumor mill variety, I like the fact that New York is apologizing.  It’s takes a big person to say they were wrong. Kudos to her. And our prayers do go out to J-Hud and her family.

-The Caramel Bella




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My Maltese puppy; lazy Sunday mornings; a day at the Beach; Yoga; breakfast anytime of the day; my gurls (and you know who you are); my family (I’m a daddy’s girl); making new friends; Los Angeles & Washington, DC; ocean views; Anguilla; healthy foods that don’t taste healthy; politics; "greenie" things; meditating; natural curls and movies.

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  • profileCARAMEL BELLA: This is my place to write about my adventures and mis-adventures in this thing called life. I discuss my passions: the environment, politics, art & culture, writing as well as yoga, health and spirituality. The one thing you can expect from this blog is that it is not what you expected. Thanks for reading! To reach me email thecaramelbella at gmail.

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