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Hey Tumblr universe!
So, I covered this song called “Story Of My Life” by One Direction. I hope you like it and that it makes you guys happy. Like this:
Be sure to leave a comment (as I do check them and comment back sometimes), like the video, subscribe to my channel and just share the video! I’ll be uploading more covers this year and already have my next few planned :)
Anyway, sit back, relax and enjoy the music.
(Because 10 is just such a limiting number and 30 just seems excessive)
Here’s Part II, amigos:
10. American Hustle (David O’Russell)
You want a hot body? You want a Bugatti? You want a Maserati? You’d better work, bitch.
Yes, I just rewatched Britney’s opening number at her Vegas residency , but it does relate somewhat to American Hustle, except that in this film, it’s about dissatisfaction and the cost of reinventing one’s life for the chance at a better one. Some people work, others scam.
To be completely honest with you, I haven’t thought once about this movie since I came out of the theater. Yes, it was wildly entertaining and the depth with which each character is examined is great, but it didn’t really leave any sort of impact on me as a viewer or a person whatsoever. That combover Christian Bale sports though… wow.
Also, this is another one of those instances where I feel as though Jennifer Lawrence is was overhyped. Yes, she was good and of course she’s funny (this is the girl who ordered McDonalds while on the red carpet at the Oscars). But for JLaw to be dominating the conversations surrounding this movie when Amy Adams was just mind-blowingly good is just sort of bullshit. But hey, that could just be me.
9. Captain Phillips (Paul Greengrass)
When attempting to make a delivery with his crew, Captain Phillips’ ship is hijacked by a group of Somali pirates. Shot in a documentary-like style, the film is both seemingly authentic (yes, I’ve read reports that claim the contrary) and incredibly intense.
What I love about the film, however, is that the film takes the time to show the backstory and circumstances of the Somali pirates, in which they had no other choice but to live a life of crime. Expertly played by Barkhad Abdirahman, the “new captain”, Muse, embodies a perfectly balanced blend of menace and vulnerability. By the end of the film, I couldn’t help but feel sympathy in spite of the terror that they produce. Yes, what the Somali pirates committed were acts of heinous measures, but can I really judge them? Captain Phillips not only allows, but challenges you, to see outside the box and really stretch our boundaries of perspective, and that’s something.
Side note: the acting by Tom Hanks in the last few minutes of the film is a masterclass in acting. Those few minutes alone warrant him being a frontrunner for the Oscar in his respective category. Mindblowing.
8. Frances Ha (Noah Baumbach)
Initially, I had heard about this movie from people who claimed that I would really like it (this assumption is based on my avid love for HBO’s Girls). Finally, after much delay, I watched it a few days ago and…
Frances Ha, played by Greta Gerwig, is a bumbling idiot. I can’t even begin to tell you guys how much judgment I threw her way and she’s not even a real person.
That was my initial response.
But after mulling over it, I realized that while Frances isn’t a real person, I do know a lot of Frances’s in my life and that much of my generation is, at least one point in our lives, like Frances: dreamers, sure, but aimless in how we go about pursuing their dreams. Instead of really living, we sometimes scrape by day to day, struggling to survive in the face of mounting desperation. We see our best friends move on to greater heights and when they ask how we’re doing, we tell them that we’re doing great when, in fact, you’ve just lost your job and can barely afford to pay rent at an already shitty apartment. But when all you’ve got left is a dream and your pride, is there really any other option?
So, no, Frances isn’t a complete moron. This movie isn’t that simple. As a character study of this generation’s dreamer, it’s insightful, charming and real. Plus, Greta Gerwig is adorable and her portrayal of Frances makes me appreciate this a lot more.
7. Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen)
Once a socialite on top of New York’s upper class society, Jasmine French (whose real name is Jeanette) finds herself at her “poor” sister’s apartment building doorsteps after she loses everything she holds dear: money, high social standing and her designer clothes.
Like my #6 film, this film gives us a look at what happens when a woman will do absolutely anything to hold onto her place in the Upper East Side. Lying to others is bad enough, but how many times will you have to lie to yourself until you start believing the lie as truth?
Woody Allen’s dialogue is always incredible and always-brilliant Cate Blanchett brings so much depth and sheer insanity to his words. Jasmine may be batshit crazy, but hey, at least she doesn’t stop trying.
6. Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorcese)
I felt like if I were to begin this post with anything, it should be with a GIF of Leo working it like there’s no tomorrow because for a man of Jordan Belfort’s stature, the prospect of tomorrow is an uncertain, if not hazy, one.
On the exterior, Wolf of Wall Streetis raunchy celebration of American excess, lauding bad behavior and reveling in every moment of its drug-fueled debauchery. Go beyond that though, and there’s a commentary on the dangers of that excess and how far one will go to reach the pinnacle of high society.
I’m not going to lie. There were times when I felt bad laughing out loud in the movie theater due to the sheer inappropriateness of it all; but really, how else would you go about making a film about a man who went on to serve minimal time in prison and continues to live a successful life (and doing it legally this time)?
Side note: I’m a huge Leo fan and it’s a shame that he hasn’t been nominated for more Oscars or even won one at this point in his career. This role may be too “controversial” for Academy voters to garner him an Oscar win, let alone a nomination, but Oscars be damned, this is an iconic performance from him and he lit up the screen like no one else could have in The Wolf of Wall Street.
And I leave you with this:
5. Short Term 12 (Destin Cretton)
First of all, screw you, Internet, for barely having any usable GIFs for Short Term 12. That can only mean that not many people who fall into the age range of those who typically make GIFS watched this movie.
… Which is unfortunate because not only is this one of the best films of the year, but it is such an important film for my generation.
Short Term 12 is an unapologetic look at the lives of neglected youths and it plays so viscerally that it almost feels like a documentary at times. Brie Larson’s performance is marked by inner and outer conflict, fighting her past demons while dealing with ones right in front of her on a daily basis. It’s unfortunate that her performance is being so overlooked by the Academy, as it’s one of the best performances of the year, but that’s just a personal quip I have with… the world.
I found myself getting lost in the realism of the film, empathizing for the stories that were told and crying because I understand all too well that sometimes, it feels as though the only time you can really feel anything is when you force yourself to feel the pain.
If you haven’t seen this film, do yourself a favor and watch it.
4. Inside Llewyn Davis (The Coen Brothers)
Inside Llewyn Davis is, ostensibly, a snapshot of the folk music scene in Greenwich Village in the early-1960s. In actuality, Inside Llewyn Davis is an aching and bracingly emotional character piece about a talented singer-songwriter who floats adrift bitterly amongst friends and colleagues who seem to have a much firmer grasp on their existences than Llewyn does.
At one point in the film, Llewyn, much to his chagrin, travels cross-country with a man of few words and another man with a propensity towards unfounded criticism. This is his last shot. With paper-thin clothes, he braves the freezing winter of Chicago to perform in front of a record label A&R, in hopes to impress him.
He doesn’t. Or he does, but not enough.
We’re always told that hard work pays off, but quite frankly, I don’t know if that’s true, and I have an inkling that Joel and Ethan Coen feel similarly.
The soundtrack for Inside Llewyn Davis, produced by T Bone Burnett, is not just an accompaniment to the film—it helps tell the story. I can’t think of a better, and more cohesive, soundtrack to a film this year.
It’s not all dark and depressing though. It’s the Coen Brothers, bitches, so it’s incredibly funny. Adam Driver is hilarious in his brief appearance and this is Carey Mulligan at her most profane (which is amazing).
3. Blue is the Warmest Color (Abdellatif Kechiche)
Before watching this film, I had heard about the controversy surrounding an “explicit, seven-minute-long, lesbian sex scene,” which earned the film an NC-17 rating. I had also heard of tensions between the film’s lead actresses and their director since their collective win at the Cannes Film Festival.
Well, it must have been a hell of a film, because at the end of its 179-minute runtime, the only thing running through my mind were thoughts of how, in order to truly find ourselves, we must sometimes be lost—even broken. What is sweeter than the taste of our first love? What is more painful, then, than the loss of that love, especially when so much of who you are was discovered through the love that was grown between you and the other person?
Writing about this film, my heart literally hurts. I’m crying. Pause.
Okay, resume. Blue is the Warmest Color holds nothing back when bringing to life both the extreme highs and tumultuous lows of a relationship. You smile, you laugh, you cry and you wish it wouldn’t ever end. But then, it does. What else can you do but move on?
Side note: I think it is horseshit that Adèle Exarchopoulos isn’t getting more recognition for her performance in this film. At the very least, she deserves a nomination. Easily one of the best performances of the year by a female lead.
2. Her (Spike Jonze)
Her is centered around Theodore, played brilliantly by Joaquin Phoenix, who, after an impending divorce from his wife, finds himself socially and emotionally detached from even those who are closest to him. That is, until he “meets” Samantha, a computer OS whose personality develops as the communication between these two grow into… a relationship of sorts.
I found myself taken by not only the story, but where it took me on an emotional and visceral level. With each scene and conversation between Theodore and Samantha (once again, I’d like to emphasize that she is an OS that does NOT have a physical body), I found myself more invested in these two characters, feeling for each of their individual sense of loneliness, pain and longing for something more, to the point that I cried during a sex scene between the two characters. You’re probably scratching your head in confusion and on paper, I know it sounds ridiculous, but I guess it’s just something you’ll have to watch to understand.
Her also serves as a commentary on the ever-growing detachment we as a society experience with the constant advancements in technology. Think about it—how many times have you Instagrammed or tweeted about a moment rather than just living in the moment? Browsed through Facebook at the dinner table? Picked up a text message during a film? Her successfully makes a commentary on all of this without shoving it down our throats, but even the subtlety with which it was conveyed was enough to make me think twice about the moments that I’ve really lived in or lived through.
Whether it’s the idea that sometimes, relationships just end because… they do or it’s the monologue by Samantha at the end of the film, everything in this movie just did it for me.
Side note: Scarlett Johansson does a hell of a lot as an actress with just her voice and needless to say, Joaquin Phoenix is, once again, brilliant in his vivid and stark portrayal as Theodore.
This was actually my favorite film of the year until I reconsidered my list…
1. Before Midnight (Richard Linklater)
… And realized that I can’t separate Before Midnight from its predecessors, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. While they’re three separate films that span nearly two decades, I feel like they’re inseparable; a cohesive body of work that can stand alone, but are ultimately stronger together. I guess the same can be said about its protagonists Jesse and Celine.
Rather than give you a breakdown on the film and what I thought about it, I feel like it would be more effective if I just shared some personal thoughts that pertain to me as a person (we are, after all, at #1).
I’ve always believed that there are times where we, as people, have to fight to love someone. You may be in a young relationship—the honeymoon stage, if you will—where all is smooth sailing. After a few months though, you begin to realize your significant other’s imperfections and flaws, of which there are many. They let their hair clog up the bathtub (gross). They don’t do their dishes in a timely manner, leaving it to just sort of gather. They tend to get jealous, letting their passive-aggressive tendencies get the best of them. They just start to get sort of annoying. At that point, you can either choose one of two options: 1) leave them or 2) learn to bend and stretch your heart, continuing to love them in spite of their imperfections. After all, you have them too.
It’s so sad to see how so many people give up on love too easily. Maybe it was never love in the first place then. I get it: sometimes, it’s inevitable. Trust broken is sometimes broken beyond repair. Shit happens. But when you look into the eyes of that someone you love and look hard enough, that person you originally fell in love with is bound to still be in there. They may have changed, you may have changed, but they’re still there if you look hard enough.
Before Midnight is special because it forces you to go beyond the notion of “happily ever after” and see the beauty that still lies in what may look like a pile of ruins at the moment.
There aren’t many films that I can say this about, but Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight have changed me as a person. I’ve grown with Celine and Jesse in their development as human beings. At one point in my life, I, too, was that young lover on a train, willing to soar with a serendipitous string of circumstances in reckless abandon. Now, while I be somewhat jaded (because unfortunately, that happens), I can still say with complete confidence that I believe in love. It’s not always pretty and it’s certainly not an easy journey, but if I shut out all of the arguments, the pettiness, and all of the dust that won’t matter come tomorrow, I’ll be able to see much more clearly what matters—and that’s the love that we share.
Well, that’s it for 2013! As an actor and aspiring writer, I’m so glad that a part of my job is to watch as many films as possible because it was a great year for film.
Agree/disagree with my thoughts? Leave your opinion! What was your favorite film of the year? And, of course, have a happy new year, bitches. Love you guys.
(Because 10 is just such a limiting number and 30 just seems excessive)
Here’s part one of my top 20 films of 2013. Starting from #20…
20. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller)
I’m a sucker for LIFE magazine covers—the cover photos are either stunning, heart-wrenching, iconic, or all of the above. Add in the sweeping sounds Of Monsters and Men, along with some inspirational text (which, according to the film, turns out to be LIFE’s motto), and you’ve got yourself a winning trailer. Yep, this film was one of the most anticipated films of the year for me, yet, here it sits at #20.
Yes, it was an entertaining film—and beautifully-shot. However, it required me to suspend my disbelief so much throughout much of the film’s duration, that even in the moments of vulnerability and realism, I found myself feeling little beyond mere entertainment. And for a story centered around a company whose motto includes as life’s purpose “[to] find each other and feel”, I found myself not feeling much beyond being entertained.
But hey, I took my family to watch it on Christmas Day (my second time watching it, my family’s first), so it must’ve been entertaining enough, right?
19. The Grandmaster (Wong Kar Wai)
Admittedly, it’s been a while since I’ve seen this film (this applies to some other films on my list), but one scene that sticks out to me in this film is a fight sequence between Ip Man and Gong Er, soulmates from two different schools of martial arts in China. As they’re fighting mid-air, there’s a moment where their fingers graze each other. By the end of the movie, that scene nearly broke my heart.
Not to generalize, but a lot of American films tend to make a moment (and then some) of two lovers and the emotional sparks that fly between them. In The Grandmaster, however, the romance between Ip Man and Gong Er is handled with such subtlety and suppression that it makes it matter all the more (and by the end, all the more heartbreaking). Mix that in with the sense that our battle with time is probably the greatest battle of them all—and one that even some of the strongest succumb to—and it makes for a hell of a beautifully heartbreaking film.
Plus, Zhang Ziyi is a bad bitch in this film. #workbitch
18. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Francis Lawrence)
I’m a rabid fan of the books. To illustrate this point, Shanna Henderson introduced me to the books during The Glee Project and I read it tirelessly between our homework assignments, music video shoots, choreography and eliminations. Reading about a game where only one emerges victorious through a string of brutalities and murder DURING The Glee Project… I guess I’m a really intense person. Anyway, I digress.
It’s rare that a movie franchise is anything more than entertaining, especially the sequels, but Catching Fire is one of the rare exceptions. Yes, it has the eye-roll-inducing moments (like when Peeta hands Katniss a pearl from an oyster he shucks moments before and smiles - refer to my issue with this in my Grandmaster post), but it’s also Katniss’ coming-of-age story where she begrudgingly accepts her role within the coming revolution as a symbol of hope for the people. It’s a satirical piece on society’s insane obsession with pop culture and its ridiculously distorted love affair with fame in all of its costs. It depicts the media’s ability to subvert the status quo in such a powerful way that people can rise in upheaval to something they had just cheered for moments before. In all of its imperfections, Catching Fire is ambitious, especially for a franchise whose target demographic is young teens.
My favorite part of this film, however, has to be Jennifer Lawrence. Personally speaking, I think she’s overhyped to the point of frustration, but in Catching Fire, her spark burns bright. She carried the high stakes of this film throughout its entirety and brought me with her on her journey. And in the film’s last minute, as her eyes burned through the screen with everything from sadness to rage, I couldn’t help but eagerly await the vengeance that the Girl on Fire was about to lay on the Capitol (coming in November 2014).
17. The Great Gatsby (Baz Luhrmann)
Besides the film being critically panned and some pretty blatant imperfections, I think this is a pretty faithful adaptation of the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald—and yes, I’m aware that Beyonce and Andre 3000 were not alive in the 20’s, so, let’s just get that out of the way.
I watched The Great Gatsby in 3D and in all of its vulgarity and excess, I thought it was appropriate (hello—the roarin’ 20’s, anyone?). More than anything though, what I personally loved about the film was its portrayal of an impossible love that became possible, even if it was just for a fleeting moment, because of one man’s belief that he could be anything. You say you can’t repeat the past. He would beg to differ. He would not only repeat it, but change it, if the stakes were high enough.
We do this everyday. We tell ourselves it will get better; that we will make it one day; that we’ll prove the world wrong. We repeat what is a lie in the present until it becomes true in the future.
I could go on and on about what the aforementioned notion of delusion versus power or how the story of hopeless and unrequited love broke my heart. But for the sake of brevity, I’ll leave you with this: if “Young and Beautiful” by Lana Del Rey does not Best Original Song at the Oscars, I will be pissed.
16. Stoker (Chan-Wook Park)
Are people born evil or is the nature of evil birthed through a series of life-changing events that force us to leave our conscience at the door and pick up a weapon in its stead? And do I really find this eerily disturbing piano scene between uncle and niece sorta-kinda-hot?
Those are just two of the many questions that ran through my head after the film. It’s beautifully shot by the acclaimed Korean director behind the original Old Boy and true to his style (I haven’t seen Old Boy, but I hear some… things about it), it’s dark and disturbing, but beautifully so. Some of the shots in Stoker are some of the most visually striking shots I’ve seen all year.
But that’s all I’ll say about it. Not because I don’t have much to say about it, but because there is an underlying tension and sense of conflict throughout the entire film that can’t be described, but just has to be experienced. Plus, maybe then you won’t judge me for being mildly enticed by an incestuous scene that takes place at a piano (and no, no sex takes place in this scene).
Side note: Matthew Goode is so creepy in this film. His performance was definitely the standout performance for me.
15. The Place Beyond the Pines (Derek Cianfrance)
Another one of those films that I haven’t seen in a while, so bear with me.
Even if the results beg to differ, I think that most of us mean well (most of us). However, as we’ve learned at one time or another in our lives, even some of our best laid plans—and the intentions that drive such plans—can lead to some pretty horrible outcomes that repeat themselves in an endless cycle that seems inevitable, no matter how hard you try to escape it.
I remember being really impressed by the opening scene—a long tracking shot done in one take. It’s ambitious and it establishes the tone of the film: risky, ambitious, dangerous. And by the final scene, I remember feeling heartbroken because sometimes, even taking risks and being ambitious in making things right can sometimes not be enough.
Side note: Ryan Gosling is the only person who can still look good with all of those tattoos and that ridiculous bleach-blonde hair.
14. Mud (Jeff Nichols)
Part coming-of-age story, part love story, part thriller.
But the biggest thing I took from Mud (that is all-too-well portrayed through Matthew McConaughey in the GIF above) is, you gotta know what’s worth keepin’ and what’s worth lettin’ go.
13. Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón)
What this film accomplished on a technical level is beyond remarkable. I watched Gravity in IMAX 3D not once, but twice, and I can say that I wasn’t just watching the film—I was experiencing it. In this case, it was a terrifying experience (for those of you who don’t know, I have a huge fear of anything “endless” - e.g. the open sea, OUTER SPACE, etc), so bravo to Alfonso Cuarón for helping me experience high levels of anxiety for over two hours.
But upon watching Gravity for the second time, I lowered its position on my top 20 way lower than it was originally ranked. Why? Well, there are a few things: 1) the novelty sort of wears out after the first time, 2) I have an issue with Sandra Bullock’s near-great performance, and 3) the screenplay is not just simple, but weak at some points. I could go on, but I don’t want to take away from the film’s accomplishments, which are out of this world. Get it? Out of this world.
12. 12 Years A Slave (Steve McQueen)
12 Years A Slave was, by far, the most difficult film to watch in 2013, but it is a film that, I believe, everyone must watch. It holds nothing back in depicting the racial cruelties of America’s history and after the film, I couldn’t help but feel disgusted by the innocent blood that’s been spilled on this land.
Being in this industry as an Asian American, I’ve realized more and more that racism isn’t dead; it just disguises itself in sheep’s clothing. 12 Years A Slave strips away all of the cotton and wool to reveal the injustice that was, and still is. All debates regarding the authenticity of the memoir aside, it reveals an element of truth—and the truth is something that we sometimes have a hard time facing. Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to watch.
Side note: Lupita Nyong’o is remarkable in this film.
11. Dallas Buyers Club (Jean-Marc Vallée)
Ron Woodroof, a Texan whose womanizing and drug-abusing ways lead him to being diagnosed as HIV-positive, starts a “buyers club” after discovering alternative methods of treatment in Mexico. It’s a story about one man’s refusal to just go sit in a corner and die, but instead, fight the pharmaceutical industry who just drags their heels in the face of an epidemic.
Just because I don’t want to be the millionth echo raving on and on about McConaughey and Leto’s performances, I’ll just say that both of them were absolutely amazing in the portrayal of their characters.
One thing I particularly liked about this film was how Ron Woodroof didn’t just become a saint after being given a 30-day death sentence. Yes, this film is about how common struggles can unite even the most different people, but Ron’s intentions behind his buyers club weren’t completely selfless, especially in the beginning. He wanted to make money. He was a raving homophobe and that wasn’t about to change overnight just because his new business partner was a transgender woman. The internal discord was evident even as he was slowly “changing” and I loved that because change, even in the face of death, is sometimes never easy, especially when there is a lifetime of experiences that have made you who you are in the present.
And that, ladies and gents, concludes Part I of my “Top 20 Films of 2013” list. Part II is coming tomorrow, but for now, what do you think? Agree? Disagree? Any additional thoughts?
On January 13, 2012 (that was the actual date), I walked into ‘The Glee Project’ house. I was in it to win it.
… I didn’t win. Remember this?
Admittedly, I don’t think I knew myself as well as I think I did, which resulted in the downfall (get it? down-“fall”), but hey, I made it pretty far and I made a few pretty kick-ass friends along the way. Plus, since then, I was here:
…among some other really cool places (both literally and metaphorically).
Two years later, on January 13, 2014, I’m relaunching my YouTube channel, in addition to the many, many things I’m working on, but this time, I’m coming at you like this:
In short, I am coming for some weaves and I intend on doing you guys proud.
I’ve been working extremely hard on relaunching my channel amidst acting classes, auditions, work, meetings, writing and just so many things, but I’m really proud of what I’m about to share with all of you, so…
This YouTube relaunch is really for you guys. Two years later, my love for all of you has only grown stronger. I know it’s been a while, but I’ve been working hard and I hope you what you’re about to see, both on and off this channel.
See you soon <3
YO TUMBLR! CHECK THIS OUT!
Put this in your calendars! Set your DVR’s!
I’ll be on this week’s episode of The Crazy Ones, starring Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar, on Thursday night at 9/8C!
I’ll be live-tweeting the episode as well as posting a vlog on my YouTube channel that morning.
That’s not it though: I’ll be telling you where else you can find me on your TV’s in a few weeks (again on Thursday night), as well as sharing with you some very important details regarding a very special night alongside some very talented friends of mine…