Sunday, February 24, 2013

Oscar Predictions

The night is here!  I'll be live tweeting my thoughts, so feel free to follow along (@marielmohns) on Twitter. [Or avoid my social media feeds if you don't want to be spoiled/spammed, hah!] It should be an interesting show, and I'm really intrigued to see how Seth MacFarlane does as a host (can't be any worse than the Hathaway/Franco fiasco).

For the first time, I was able to see all 9 of the nominated best pictures plus a few others that have nominations in other categories.  There are only 3 categories that I haven't seen ANY of the nominees, so I won't be voting on those.  I've listed out the "big" categories with my predicted winner in bold, and you can see a full list of nominees here.

Without further ado, here are my predictions:

Best Picture:
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Misérables
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

Michael Haneke, Amour
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook

Best Actor in a Leading Role:
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Denzel Washington, Flight

Best Actress in a Leading Role:
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Quevenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts, The Impossible

Best Actor in a Supporting Role:
Alan Arkin, Argo
Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

Best Actress in a Supporting Role:
Amy Adams, The Master
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook

Animated Feature Film: Wreck-It Ralph
Cinematography: Life of Pi
Costume Design: Mirror Mirror
Documentary Feature: ?
Documentary Short: ?
Film Editing: Argo
Foreign Language Film: Amour
Makeup/Hairstyling: The Hobbit
Music - Original Score: John Williams, Lincoln
Music - Original Song: Adele, Skyfall
Production Design: The Hobbit
Short Film - Animated: Paperman
Short Film - Live Action: ?
Sound Editing: Django Unchained
Sound Mixing: Lincoln
Visual Effects: Life of Pi
Writing - Adapted Screenplay: Argo
Writing - Original Screenplay: Amour

Who do you think will win a 2013 Academy Award?!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Movie Reviews: Pi, Argo, & Beasts

The Oscars are nearly upon us, and currently I have seen 8 out the 9 nominated best pictures.  I am planning on seeing Amour tonight.  After years and years of telling myself I will see all the best pictures before the award show, I've finally accomplished my goal!  Here are abridged versions of my most recent reviews.  Click each title to see my full reviews on Letterboxd if you are interested!

Life of Pi:
This movie broke the "stuck at 4-stars" rut for my top Oscar contenders. I never read the book, but the film adaptation definitely captured the magnificence of its storytelling.  The CGI was amazing, I had to keep reminding myself that it wasn't a real tiger.  The spiritual/religious tone of the film was well done and has a lot to say about one's faith.
5-star rating: ★★★★1/2

Ben Affleck truly stepped up his game, and the result is an excellent political thriller. There was drama, there was action, there was comedy...but all without seeming too Hollywood. Affleck's direction gave this film the appropriate realistic vs. dramatic elements.  The cast was great, and it was one of the best cinematic period pieces I've seen.
5-star rating: ★★★★1/2

Beasts of the Southern Wild:
I'm not sure if this film was too artsy and I am not smart enough to "get" it, or if I was just trying too hard to look for symbolism and meaning. I was pretty confused throughout the movie, yet pretty much figured out the plot right away.'s an indie film. But the music score was gorgeous and the young Quvenzhané Wallis deserves every bit of praise being thrown her way.  She was adorable and brilliant - with no prior acting experience at that!
5-star rating: ★★★

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Unconditional Love

Happy Valentine's Day to those who celebrate!  I'm not a romantic person (and thankfully neither is Matt), so we don't go out of our way to do "lovey dovey" things on this holiday.

The truth is, real love is an everyday thing.  I am definitely NOT a perfect wife, and I'm pretty sure I don't tell Matt "I Love You" everyday.  I definitely don't show him my love through my actions everyday.  But our love is there. No matter how many times we fail or disappoint, we are loved.  It's this unconditional love that we should all strive to have - it's a reflection of who we were created to be.

I discovered this beautiful animated short earlier this week.  It's nominated for an Oscar, and while I'm pretty sure that Paperman will win, I'm going to root for the underdog...pun intended ;)

At first, it seems like a simple story about the first man and his dog.  It's right there in the title.  Dogs are loyal and follow us wherever we go.  Even when we yell at them for pooping on the carpet or chewing up our favorite shoes, they still love us.  In this film, Adam abandoned his dog for the new woman in his life.  Yet, the dog kept looking for him. And was reunited with his man at the end. He loved unconditionally.

This short film isn't just about a dog and a's about a relationship. Particularly, the relationship that God desires for each of us. He loves unconditionally. He continues to pursue us even when we seem to abandon Him or lose hope. He is always there offering His fullness of love and truth.

It's up to us whether we accept Him into our lives or not.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Raindrops keep fallin' on my...desk?

One of my biggest fears as a teacher became a reality today...

I was talking so fast that I spittled (aka gleeking) on the first row. * embarrassment*

But it's general knowledge that you shouldn't sit in the front row because the passionate instructor will inevitably get so excited that they spit at you on accident, right?!

At least most of them already had their umbrellas since it's raining/storming outside ;)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Science Saturday 4.1: Tractor Beams & DNA

New year, new semester - it's time to jump start Science Saturday (yet again!)  We're only a month into 2013, but there have already been some awesome science developments this year.

Lil' Wesley Crusher with
his model tractor beam
Last year I mentioned the Star Trek inspired "needleless" injections, and this year scientists have brought another Star Trek tech to reality: a tractor beam! This new technique uses optical forces of light to transport and re-arrange microscopic particles. This requires a lot of energy to be transferred, so currently, a large object would result in over-heating.  But they believe it has great potential for medical applications at the cellular level.


DNA double helix
DNA is probably one of the most commonly recognized biological molecule with its unique double-stranded helix structure.  This helical shape is influenced by the interaction of the four nucleotides that code for our genetic material: adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine.  Yet recently, it has been demonstrated that there are areas of the DNA strand that may be saturated with the nucleotide base guanine.  These guanine-rich areas, specifically with an arrangement of four guanines, results in a square shaped structured termed a "G-quadraplex."  This four-stranded DNA structure is likely found in the telomere, located at the end of a chromosome which basically protects the genetic material from "fraying" at the ends.  Telomeres play a huge role in cell division, and therefore are important to cancers (which is unlimited cell division).  The discovery of the G-quadraplex only adds more questions to answer, but is a great start toward new discoveries.

G-quadraplex structure (Source)

Speaking of DNA, scientists have been able to used the special coding abilities of the four nucleotide bases mentioned above as storage of digital media, including a color photo, 26 seconds of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, and all of Shakespeares sonnets. While digital media is encoded in binary, using 0's and 1's, DNA-based storage relies on encoding in trinary. They accomplish this by using one of the nucleotide bases as a "spacer" between groups of the three other bases.  While it is not perfect, it has the potential to be used as a long-term storage process, since DNA will last longer than any dated media technology such as tape or disk.

DNA storage process (Source)

Friday, February 1, 2013

YouTube Love

There have been a few YouTube videos that I've been watching this week, and I thought I'd share them with all my friends on the internet machine!

First off, Disney Animation Studios has released their animated short, Paperman, which originally aired in theaters with Wreck-It Ralph.  Since I didn't get a chance to see the movie, this was my first time seeing Paperman, and I LOVE it.  Everything about it is perfect: the animation, the musical score, and of course the charming characters.

Second is this hilarious parody video of "Anne Hathaway" singing "I Dreamed A Dream" from Les Mis...she will probably take the Oscar this year, as she deserves, but she still kind of irks me as a person, so anything that pokes fun of her over-dramatic persona is hilarious to me :)

This video of an 84-year old grandpa playing Black Ops 2 and Halo 4 is SO funny! Good on him for enjoying all forms of entertainment with his younger family members!

Last but certainly not least, Jamie Cullum is one of my favorite musical artists, and this older video of him "winging" a cover of The Beatles' Come Together is the best cover version of any song EVAR.  Enjoy!