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“The Lion King” 2019: A Vehicle for Billy Eichner

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Disney’s timeless hit The Lion King, and the new live action version is now roaring at cinemas worldwide. With all the remakes of classics that have turned into an ongoing trend, is The Lion King 2019 worth your money, especially when the 1994 original that impressed 5 year-old me the first time I watched it in the theater is still a box office king?

As a massive The Lion King fan who has dedicated my time to devouring the entire trilogy countless times, drawing fanart, writing fanfics and collecting tons of merch, I was one of those viewers who initially doubted this remake but later found it surprisingly fresh, stunning and compelling. Simba and friends are definitely worth revisiting in CGI format thanks to director Jon Favreau and his vision to use technology to create real talking animals with stunning African shots. The key is to treat this new, updated film as an additional version that complements the original, just like the theater production that has become a Broadway sensation it even has international tours.

Plot wise, The Lion King 2019 bears a closer resemblance to Hamlet, the Shakespearan tragedy that inspired the 1994 movie, with Scar’s murderous nature being shown since his very first scene. Such a commanding acting by Chiwetel Ejiofor. He can easily hold his own against the great James Earl Jones, who makes a grand comeback as King Mufasa. The design for Scar also enhances his villainous quality, giving him that dangerous look from the get go.

I never thought I’d be saying this, but I’m super impressed by the new voice cast. To me, these names are as great as the original. Donald Glover makes the perfect Simba, and both his line deliveries and singing voice are pure magic. He has demonstrated his acting prowess with his roles in Atlanta, Solo (my personal favorite) and many other prominent projects, so I’m definitely all for him as Simba. Beyonce as my top favorite character Nala is another inspired casting, and I completely understand why she got picked – she is fierce and daring like Nala is. Alfre Woodard makes a wonderful Sarabi. Very commanding and queenly. I appreciate the extended scenes Sarabi was given. Her interactions with Scar during his reign at Pride Rock provided some backstory elements that we didn’t get to see much in the original version. John Oliver as Zazu is as entertaining as the marvelous Rowan Atkinson.

The biggest surprise of the movie for me and many others on social media is the casting of Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen as the iconic meerkat and warthog duo Timon and Pumbaa. In my opinion, both are the best Disney duo to have ever existed and my personal favorites. Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella will always be irreplaceable, and I’ve been obsessed with them ever since, but Billy and Seth have proven that they’re equally fantastic, and together they create compelling comedy. I’ve seen a lot of Billy’s works on TV, but Timon is his best role to date, and I honestly think The Lion King should be a vehicle for him to get even more film roles. The guy is hilarious but also charismatic. He even has Oscar buzz! Plus his singing voice is really stunning he should sing in more movies or even make an album. Note to Disney: can we have both The Lion King 1/2 and Simba’s Pride turned into remakes? We want the entire trilogy. And on top of that, it’s about time we get a new Timon and Pumbaa TV series. More Billy and Seth, please. I love how closer to the actual African animals the CGI characters are in terms of movement and behavior. Timon mostly uses his four legs to walk compared to the original animation, and that is super adorable to see.

All in all, The Lion King is a majestic cinematic treat and captures the regal quality of the original 1994 film. By far Disney’s best live action remake along with Aladdin. Get your tickets now and be transported back to Africa to witness the universe of Pride Rock in an all-new way.

Photo Credits: Walt Disney Studios

“American Idol” 2019: My Favorite Performances

AI 20 1

AI 20

It’s here. It’s now. It’s the grand finale of American Idol. The hit TV show’s 17th season – or Season 2 on ABC Network – is about to hit the final note tonight with one of the Top 3 that include the incredibly talented singer-songwriter Alejandro Aranda, Season 1 comeback king Laine Hardy, and powerhouse voiced Madison Vandenburg being crowned the new winner.

Expect the return of our finest group of Top 10 finalists – Wade Cota, Laci Kaye Booth, Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon, Walker Burroughs, Alyssa Raghu, Dimitrius Graham and last but certainly not least Uche – and special guests that include famous Idol alum Adam Lambert who was also invited to mentor during Queen Night, Weezer, Dan + Shay and Idol‘s trio of judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan. Note to Idol producers: WHY did you deny Season 1 champion Maddie Poppe a slot at the finale especially since she has a wonderful debut album Whirlwind that is charting high on iTunes!? Don’t you want to support your winners!?

Here I present you my Season 2 highlights in the form of my favorite Top 10 and Top 20 performances and brief notes on Season 2 itself.

TOP 3

Having Alejandro, Laine and Madison as the last three contestants standing is actually an inspired choice by America. If we look at the bigger picture, each win would give the show credibility. Alejandro and Laine are not only bringing the best of their musicality and natural charm onstage but also diversity, and either one of them winning would change the game in the American Idol universe. Laine has been a personal favorite of mine from last year besides Michael J. Woodard, Catie Turner and Garrett Jacobs (who got in over Laine back in the Top 24 announcement), so his transformation was truly impressive to see. Alejandro’s originals are testament to his massive talent and artistry. From “Out Loud” to “Cholo Love” and “Blesser”, he’s making music that his idol Bach would’ve been very proud to see, and America and the world are embracing him. Madison may only be 17 but she does have a stunning voice that’s suitable for today’s pop industry. Here are my favorite performances from the Top 3.

TOP 10

Laci Kaye Booth ~ This stunning lady always has a voice like crispy waffles. Delightfully raspy and all about the story in every lyric she conveys. So underrated! A modern Stevie Nicks. “Dreams” was one of my many Laci favorites. Ethereal, divine and out-of-this-world lovely.

Wade Cota ~ Wade has a very special voice and story. A unique performer, he always sings with so much sincerity. That signature rasp is one only he can pull off. He also shows a lot of support and appreciation for his fellow idols, and that shows how great he is as a person. Twas a pleasure seeing his transformation from his audition all the way to “Rocket Man” and his other Top 5 performances.

Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon ~ Divine and timeless voice! We’re all very lucky to have him on the show. A truly dedicated artist who always tells a story with every song, be it a cover or his own original “Almost Heaven”. One of the biggest robberies in the history of the show, but he is bound to be a success story. Even Sir Elton John has showered him with praises. He has a jazz EP on iTunes that I recommend. It showcases his versatility.

Walker Burroughs ~ Charming guy with a charming voice that’s reminiscent of the golden years of Idol, where males with velvety voices reigned. Idol viewers seem to have a problem with talented gingers, because eliminating Walker and Jeremiah within the span of a week was a big mistake. Need your Walker fix? I recommend his luminous original “The Moon Song”. Simply magical!

Alyssa Raghu ~ Like Laine, Alyssa has always been a fan fave dating back to Season 1, which made her return very inspiring. She did display a more intriguing side of her this year and really fought for her place on the show. The ultimate comeback queen and such a pop star!

Uche ~ Electric, exciting and enjoyable to watch. Mr. Uche’s performances pack a lot of punch. Bonus point: he really knows how to rock the stage. Him not making it to Queen Week was a travesty but he will prove America wrong, because he’s the entertainer the music industry needs.

Dimitrius Graham ~ He should always be in our hearts, ’cause he always puts his heart and soul in every performance. Plus Dimitrius is such a star name. The only way for him is up. Meechi gang forever! Look out for his duet with Adam Lambert at tonight’s finale.

MORE IDOLS

Evelyn Cormier ~ She’s got the voice of a goddess. Haunting, magical and ethereal. With a mix of Cher, Florence Welch and Alison Sudol, Evelyn truly has a divine and timeless sound. Personally, she’s my favorite female voice from this season. What a kind, divine personality too. She always finds a way to keep in touch with her supporters and treats them like friends, which is a wonderful bonus. I invite you to give her Ghost EP and other originals a listen.

Shawn Robinson ~ There’s something super special about Shawn’s voice. His acoustic version of “Who You Are” from the audition rounds was lovely, and his other performances like “Don’t You Worry About a Thing” and “Jealous” showed how versatile he can be. Had he been given the chance to advance to the Top 14, his growth arc would’ve been compelling to see. Still, he’s such a pop star, and I’m so ready for a Shawn record.

Ashley Hess ~ I’m sure we were all charmed by Ashley’s Idol debut: her Norah Jones cover that she sang in her audition – “Don’t Know Why”. Her voice is like syrup and honey, and there’s a singer-songwriter quality to her like Sara Bareilles. Honestly, she should’ve made it way farther than the Top 14. Like Sara, she will do big things in music. I would want a Sara x Ashley collab.

Ryan Hammond ~ One of the best male vocals out there. Ryan’s powerhouse voice sets him apart, and he always sings from his heart. Inspiring story as well. You can tell he’s got a big love of music, and his passion shows in every performance. I would want him (and Shawn) to be the comeback kings in the next Idol season, but no matter what, his talent is undeniable.

Kate Barnette ~ So refreshing, unique and relaxing. Kate is an original and deserves more appreciation. Her tone is delightful and gives you that blissful feeling. You can download her EP on iTunes and enjoy her original tunes.

Margie Mays ~ Miss Margie is mesmerizing. Her lively audition and her quirky personality have made her an instant fave. That talent got her into the elite Top 40, though her journey was short-lived when she did not make the Top 20, Margie is so unforgettable that it’s not a question why she gets an invite to tonight’s finale. Be sure to look out for her appearance.

NOTES

* My overall favorites: Jeremiah, Laine, Walker, Shawn, Alejandro, Uche, Wade, Dimitrius, Ryan, Evelyn, Laci, Ashley and Kate

* This season had one of the best Top 20 in American Idol history and is still one for the books. It all became a mess when America started to vote, but at the end, it still gave us a solid Final 3.

* No tour for this season, which is disappointing, especially considering most of the finalists are fan faves. Plus they can capitalize on Alejandro’s massive fanbase with him being the only contestant with tons of followers, more than anyone in the last five to six seasons.

* Like last year and the final FOX season, a rushed format with double eliminations per week didn’t give audiences enough time to get to know contestants. Hopefully with the budget they are saving for next year, we’ll be able to get longer live shows with single eliminations and proper farewell packages for all finalists.

17 “American Idol” Performances I Keep Coming Back To: Celebrating 17 Seasons of the Hit TV Show

17 is magic when it comes to American Idol.

For 16 seasons, this music competition show has provided a platform for aspiring singers from all over America – and the world – to build fanbases and launch their careers in entertainment. From the original idol Kelly Clarkson and chart-topping favorites like Adam Lambert, Jennifer Hudson, Tori Kelly, David Cook and David Archuleta to game-changers that charm you with their uniqueness like Haley Reinhart, Michael J. Woodard and Catie Turner, plenty of American Idol alumni have been able to find steady work in the world of showbiz and media.

After its 15-season run on FOX that was full of highs and some lows, ABC has taken over and successfully revamped the show into one that is refreshing and new. Fresh after Maddie Poppe’s win last year, Season 17 has officially started last Sunday featuring brand new talents in pursuit of their dreams. To celebrate 17 seasons of American Idol, here’s a list of 17 unforgettable performances by my top favorite idols.

“Bennie and the Jets” ~ Haley Reinhart
One of Idol‘s very best, Haley has gone a long way from her “Oh Darling” audition to preparing for her 4th studio album Lo-Fi Soul (after Listen Up, Better and What’s That Sound) and going platinum with her divine rendition of the Elvis Presley hit “Can’t Help Falling in Love”. She also performs with the Postmodern Jukebox and voices Bill in the Netflix series F is for Family. “Bennie and the Jets” was the Idol performance that gained her a massive fanbase. And it still remains a CLASSIC.

“Golden Slumbers” ~ Michael J. Woodard
Michael has a super versatile voice, charisma and a bigger-than-life personality that makes him another Idol great, one deserving of millions of records. He’s able to turn every song into gold and put his own original spin on it. The ability to go from a high-energy range to a soft, pure, gentle tone makes all his performances wonderful treats. One of his captivating moments was his uplifting rendition of the Beatles classic “Golden Slumbers”. You just can’t help but adore him and his sincerity.

“Music of the Night” ~ David Cook
You can always count on Mr. Cook to transform a tune that you’ve heard tons of times into something new and radio-worthy. One of Idol‘s most daring contestants (and my favorite winner ever), David’s amazing rock vocal and songwriting prowess always add depth to his music, from the originals on his album (with This Loud Morning being my top favorite) to the covers he did on Idol and occasionally perform at his own concerts. His version of the “Phantom of the Opera” classic “Music of the Night” was one of the performances that solidified him as a contender and is still worth a listen.

“You’re So Vain” ~ Brooke White
Brooke changed my life and was the very first person to inspire me to pursue music and songwriting. Everything I do that is music-related, I owe it all to her. What a wonderful singer-songwriter and a lovely soul. Season 7 was the first time I watched Idol from beginning to end, and Brooke has always added sunshine to my days with her Carole King and Carly Simon vibe, unique tone and California cool. Up until now, I would still play her “You’re So Vain” on repeat.

“Shop Around” ~ David Archuleta
He may have been seventeen during his time on Idol, but David Archie has always had it in the bag to deliver groundbreaking, heartwarming performances week after week. A total pro from Day 1! Whether singing behind the piano or with a plain mic, his voice is pure magic. “Shop Around” was a super fun David Archie performance and showcased his youthful side. Always great to look back on!

“Crazy on You” ~ Carly Smithson
With a haunting Evanescence-like tone that’s out-of-this-world and an Irish charm that casts a spell on viewers, Carly can easily switch from a high-energy performance to one that is quiet but commanding. Her rock band’s record We Are the Fallen and bubblegum pop solo debut album from back in her younger years are still captivating with their contrasting genres. One of my top fave Carly performances from Idol was Heart’s energetic hit “Crazy on You”. Crazy good!!!

“One Rock and Roll Too Many” ~ Syesha Mercado
Syesha is electric! One of the more underrated Idol performers. With the ability to nail both pop and Broadway, Syesha’s star has always meant to shine bright, and Idol was the right platform for her to showcase her talent and sassy, fun persona.

“Rebel Yell” ~ Dalton Rapattoni
Dalton made the final FOX season of Idol worth watching with his creativity in arranging songs. A former member of IM5 and indie band Fly Away Hero, he has always been humble and grounded, focusing purely on his talent and storytelling abilities with every performance. Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” is a Dalton cover I keep coming back to. It was very well-arranged and showcased his unique rock vocal.

“Paint It Black” ~ Siobhan Magnus
What was going to be a dull 9th season after Kris Allen, Adam Lambert and Allison Iraheta rocked Season 8 turned out to be the opposite thanks to Siobhan, whose magnetic tone and haunting presence glued the audience to the show. With a killer voice, she made “Paint It Black” one of the best performances ever in Idol history.

“Don’t You Forget About Me” ~ Michael Johns
Gone too soon, the late Michael Johns was able to pair his raspy yet soulful voice and rocker persona with his natural Aussie charm to create music that mattered. His record Heart on My Sleeve is forever a gem that reminds us that beautiful music still exists. From “Across the Universe” and “Dream On” to “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay”, all his Idol performances are worth playing on repeat. “Don’t You Forget About Me” is still one of his best in my book.

“Once Upon a Dream” ~ Catie Turner
Quirky and bubbly, Catie has proven she was more than just another Idol contestant but a singer-songwriter who can write powerful feminist anthems like 21st Century Machine that became her audition song. A fan favorite like Michael J. Woodard in ABC’s first Idol season, she excels in impactful acoustic-based songs. One of her most magical performances was her grand rendition of “Once Upon a Dream” during Disney Night.

“A House is Not a Home” ~ Tamyra Gray
Tamyra’s stunning velvety voice, remarkable beauty and likable, outgoing personality made her a shining star in the first ever Idol show on FOX, proving that she was just as wonderful as Kelly and deserved way better as far as the music industry goes. Her record The Dreamer was full of empowering hits. “A House is Not a Home” will forever be a timeless Tamyra tune from her Idol run.

“I’ll Stand By You” ~ Pia Toscano
With a soaring grand voice, Pia can make every song sparkle like diamonds. Her unjustly elimination was so bittersweet it was the first that made me tear up for nights. The message behind her every song is pure and raw. “This Time” deserves better, and the ethereal “You’ll Be King” is bound to be a Pia classic. Out of all her Idol performances, “I’ll Stand By You” still makes a big impact on me.

“Ain’t No Sunshine” ~ Kris Allen
Just like Adam Lambert who reigned supreme in the electric Season 8, Kris has always brought the magic to the Idol stage with his immense creativity and masterful approach towards every song to make them sound distinctive and new. It all won him the crown in a group full of big-voiced contestants. A superb singer-songwriter, Kris came out of nowhere and made America fall in love with him starting with his gorgeous cover of Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” all the way to the finale.

“Vienna” ~ Elise Testone
As a fan of raspy-sounding females, Elise quickly became an instant favorite of mine during Season 11. She’s a master at tackling bluesy, soulful tunes, including Adele’s “One and Only”. “Vienna” remains one of my best-loved Elise covers. Very underrated and deserves more accolades.

“Because the Night” ~ Nick Fradiani
Idol isn’t just about big voices. It can be about having a cool sound and creative way of songwriting. Nick has one of those throwback voices that can easily cross over from pop-rock to the more retro genre. His arrangement of radio hits like “Teenage Dream” displayed his strength as a singer-songwriter who can easily twist songs. “Because the Night” was one of his top Idol highlights.

“I’m Not the Only One” ~ Rayvon Owen
Rayvon will forever be the king of Idol Saves, having survived Bottom 2 week after week in the lives thanks to a social media fan save option that Season 14 was known for. On a more positive note, it made his Idol journey more endearing with every fight resulting in beautiful performances, one of them being “I’m Not the Only One”, making him one of the best male pop singers the show has ever cast.

 

Films to Watch at the Beginning of the Year

2019 has arrived, and January and February are the best months to start fresh with everything. Here’s a selection of movies from classics to modern hits that will give you cinematic companionship as you redecorate your room, finish up your 2019 goals or fill your new planners with exciting events and activities.

With top notch characters, unforgettable cast, and timeless plots, these films are sure to bring you excitement, positive vibes and a spirit for adventure in this brand new year full of great opportunities.

Feel free to comment with your list of films you watch at the beginning of every year.

  • Mary Poppins and Mary Poppins Returns
    From classic Julie Andrews to the Emily Blunt version, it will always be a jolly holiday with Mary. Revisit the magical nanny and the Banks family on Cherry Tree Lane from P.L. Travers’s bestselling book series. Mary Poppins Returns is still playing in cinemas as of now. Can you imagine that?
  • Roman Holiday
    This Audrey Hepburn hit makes a truly delicious cinematic treat.
  • La La Land
    Here’s to the fools who dream.
  • Midnight in Paris
    It’s Paris after midnight. When the clock strikes 12, travel back in time to 1920’s Paris with Owen Wilson as Gil the writer as he befriends some of the famous literary names of the past that include Ernest Hemingway and the Fitzgeralds.
  • When Harry Met Sally
    What a fine classic! The perfect rom-com to kickstart the new year.
  • The Artist
    A whimsical, inspiring black and white film for the modern times.
  • Eat, Pray, Love
    Follow Elizabeth Gilbert’s inspiring journey of self-discovery in different parts of the world based on her bestselling novel of the same title with Julia Roberts portraying her onscreen version.
  • Aloha
    A relaxing little film starring Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone set in Hawaii.
  • Mamma Mia 1 & Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again
    Set off on a musical adventure with “dancing queen” Donna Sheridan, her daughter Sophie and Sophie’s three potential dads in the magical Greek island of Kalokairi featuring delicious ABBA hits. You’ll be screaming “Gimme Gimme Gimme” with every viewing.
  • Hugo
    Set in 1930’s Paris, this stunning, imaginative piece of cinema is a wonderfully crafted tribute to the art and magic of film-making and a constant reminder to stay optimistic about our dreams and ambitions.
  • Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 1 & 2
    No matter where Lena, Tibby, Carmen and Bridget travel, their friendship will always stay powerful thanks to a magical blue jeans that continue to be a perfect fit for them. Let’s hope Movie Number 3 will be made soon.
  • La Vie En Rose
    A wonderful biopic of French chanteuse Edith Piaf.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Honey, honey, the marvelous movie musical Mamma Mia! returns for a sequel a decade after its release, and it’s a such summer delight you’ll be singing “Andante, Andante” and floating away. In Here We Go Again, we sail back to the fictional island of Kalokairi, Greece and reunite with the original cast while welcoming a number of newcomers to Hotel Bella Donna.

Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is now in charge of Donna’s divine hotel, preparing for its reopening and inviting her three fathers Sam, Harry and Bill (still played by Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgård) and mom’s best friends Tanya and Rosie (with Christine Baranski and Julie Walters reprising their roles) to come along while her husband Sky (Dominic Cooper) is learning about hotel business away in New York. As pregnancy is upon her, she reminisces about her mother with the help of Tanya and Rosie, and the film whimsically mixes present situations with flashbacks that feature young, wild and carefree Donna (magnetically portrayed by Lily James) and her adventures that led her to her first encounters with her three beaus.

Meryl Streep is still the heart and soul of the story, and though her presence is limited in this sequel (perhaps we can all pen a letter to the writers asking why they did what they did to Donna), the plot will always revolve around Donna, and Sophie is honoring her mother by keeping the family business running.

Props to the casting team for putting together a convincing group of young actors for the flashback scenes, from Jessica Keenan Wynn and Alexa Davies who look and speak exactly like Baranski and Walters, to Jeremy Irvine, Hugh Skinner and Josh Dylan as young Sam, Harry and Bill. Lily James steals the film as young Donna. Her presence is electric, and her larger-than-life persona makes it truly an iconic role for her. The way she channels Meryl/Donna is completely natural the audiences would be impressed.

With ABBA’s music being the force behind the Mamma Mia! universe, Here We Go Again does a marvelous job delivering the Swedish pop group’s more underrated hits, from “Andante, Andante” to “Fernando” (a major highlight within the film featuring Cher as Sophie’s grandmother Ruby and Andy Garcia as her former lover Fernando) while bringing in songs previously used in the original film like “Dancing Queen”, “Thank You for the Music”, “Waterloo” (a standout scene with young Harry and Donna), “The Name of the Game”, and “I Have a Dream”.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is a great sequel and a wonderful addition to the first. It’s full of joy, electric acting, ABBA-licious tunes, endearing moments and Grecian magic.

American Idol Season 1 (ABC)

ABC has brought back American Idol two years after its cancellation on FOX. The phenomenon that preceded other TV singing competitions is all-new and improved with fresh talents and a positive vibe. Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan – this first season’s trio of judges – not only have great dynamics, but also a strong, genuine interest in what each contestant bring. They pay close attention to all the singing and are very encouraging.

Given the super rushed schedule, tonight’s episode will wrap up the auditions segment, preparing the audiences for the Hollywood rounds tomorrow. To refresh, let’s take a look at some of the unforgettable auditions we have seen ever since the show’s March 11 premiere. Feel free to share your favorites too!

Does Idol deserve to stay another season? With such a positive direction, this competition serves as a reminder on the power of dreams, and dreams are always needed despite today’s grim political situations. So the answer would be yes. If you haven’t been tuning in, I encourage you to do so, and get ready to be inspired all over again. Spectacular talents and future stars await you.

LAINE HARDY

A high schooler with a cool, raspy voice and a bluesy rock sound? Laine’s got it. You can immediately spot that recording quality in his vocals. It’s only right that he’s topping the polls on various Idol forums and sites.

BRANDON DIAZ

This Berklee guy is definitely one of my top male voices. Very soulful. Turns out he was on The X Factor and that I’ve seen a few of his Youtube videos once like “Say Something”. I’m very interested in keeping up with his career on Idol and beyond.

GARRETT JACOBS

Another one of my favorite. Such a unique tone and so much potential. Great singer-songwriter vibe. While blues is very fitting for him, I can see him doing well covering modern male artists like Shawn Mendes and James Morrison.

MARCIO DONALDSON

Super inspiring. Powerful story and a voice that’s tender and compelling, Marcio is one to look for. There’s an honesty in the way he sings, and if he keeps it up in Hollywood, he could easily soar into the finals.

CATIE TURNER

This girl is truly an original. With an adorably quirky persona and her self-penned songs like 21st Century Machine, she’s definitely starting a revolution, and we’re all here for a lot of Catie records. She could be the one! #hashtagcatie

MADDIE POPPE

Whimsical with a relaxing tone, she’s got magic in her voice that’s reminiscent of Sara Bareilles. The ultimate female singer-songwriter in this competition, she will bring a lot of freshness to the stage.

AMELIA HAMMER HARRIS

Very retro! With a lot of funk and energy in her voice and a NYLON-inspired fashion, Amelia delivers a lot of excitement and is bound to shake up the competition. It also helps that she’s the daughter of a music icon Jack Hammer.

MARA JUSTINE

Very impressive! Haven’t seen her on America’s Got Talent but she seems ready now with her massive voice. Her expression and enthusiasm really show, and she’d make a commercial recording artist.

LAYLA SPRING

She has a delightful sound. Bringing her little sister Dixie along, there’s an immediate warmth in her that draws you in. While she could benefit with more experiences, she’s got potential. The voice is definitely there, and so is her charm.

 

CALEB HUTCHINSON

 

He comes across as unique for a country artist. It looks like he also has a magnetic personality. His sincerity and love for country music definitely shows when he performs.

Lady Bird

Lady Bird is a new classic in the modern cinematic universe. Greta Gerwig uses her fine powers in writing and directing to craft a simple, humorous yet compelling film that centers on Saoirse Ronan’s Christine McPherson, a senior student at a Catholic school in Sacramento, California, who yearns for a big, artistically rich life in the East Coast. Referring to herself as Lady Bird, the nickname given to her at birth by her nurse mother Marion McPherson (played by Laurie Metcalf), she views her surroundings from a very progressive angle, giving her that fiery, rebellious personality.

The quest for love, acceptance and everlasting friendship is a common plot in the everyday coming-of-age movies, but what makes Lady Bird a masterpiece is the unique insertion of whimsical tones followed by quirky humor that result in plenty of amusing, lighthearted moments like the many inside jokes Lady Bird shares with her best friend Jules (Beanie Feldstein) on a daily basis (their loyalty to each other serves as a powerful testament to female friendship) and the iconic drama club musical audition scenes (seeing Lady Bird tackle the lively Broadway classic “Everybody Says Don’t” is purely epic, knowing how accurate the lyrics are to her personal life). In addition to that, the plot is strongly character-driven with Lady Bird pushing the story forward as she embarks on a journey towards her high school graduation and to discover which East Coast college will accept her. Determined and fiery yet overly stubborn, she often has a row with the strongly opinionated Marion at home and continually lashes out against her, yet fails to realize that underneath it all, both mother and daughter have so much in common. Ronan and Metcalf were deserving of their Academy Awards nominations for a realistic portrayal of their characters with their all-out, energetic performances.

With such a strong film debut, Greta Gerwig has achieved the impossible by being only the fifth female director to have ever been nominated for Best Directing in the history of the Oscars, and the road can only go up from here. She has become an icon and inspiration for women directors and aspiring filmmakers who are just starting out, and Lady Bird will always soar high with its many accolades.

Now that the DVD and Blu-ray are available to buy, it’s the best time to pick up Lady Bird, especially since today is International Women’s Day, and films made by and starring powerful ladies that foster great female dynamics are always the ultimate treats. Click here for more info and follow @LadyBirdMovie on Twitter for updates.

 

#TimesUp at the 75th Golden Globes

Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 10.31.27 AMOprah Winfrey. Photo Credit: Variety

BLL Ladies copyThe Big Little Lies ladies. Photo Credit: ABC

It’s 2018, and the annual Golden Globe Awards went into its 75th year with a fiery revolution in support of women across all industries, encouraging them to speak up in light of abuse, misrepresentation and all forms of mistreatment. The #TimesUp movement packed a lot of female punch, as stars and public figures – women and men – attended the event all decked in black as a sign of solidarity. Most of the wins and speeches on stage also reflected and acknowledged the need to continue pushing for equal opportunities for females in all aspects of their careers.

Speaking as a screenwriter, I stand by Oprah Winfrey, Jessica Chastain, Zoe Saldana, Natalie Portman, Dwayne Johnson, Ansel Elgort, Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Zoe Kravitz, Laura Dern, Evan Rachel Wood, and many other icons in the fight for lady power. May more opportunities open up for female writers, directors, engineers, coders, entrepreneurs, and other career fields from all backgrounds and from all over the world, for the world of storytelling and the entire workforce should always be diverse.

The 75th Golden Globe Awards presented us with tons of highlights. Feel free to list all your favorite moments. Here are mine:

  • All the Big Little Lies wins (congrats Nicole Kidman and Laura Dern) and the all-girl cast photos.
  • Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort and Laura Dern in the same room. The Fault in Our Stars nostalgia.
  • Queen Oprah’s all-inspiring, super important speech about hope and an inclusive future as she accepted the Cecille B. Demille award.
  • Both Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor winning brought a little Moulin Rouge magic. Viva Satine and Christian!
  • The Greatest Showman won Best Original Song with “This is Me”.
  • Barbra Streisand’s surprise appearance. I’d personally want Babs to make a triumphant return to film directing and acting. The last feature film she directed and starred in was the lovely Mirror Has Two Faces.
  • Saoirse Ronan and the Lady Bird appreciation. Director Greta Gerwig deserved a nomination for crafting a powerful female-driven film.

2017 Highlights, 2018 Greetings

It’s here, it’s now, it’s 2018. Well, almost. Before I start my annual New Years Eve movie When Harry Met Sally (been enjoying brunch with some good friends and a cozy family dinner), allow me to present a brief list of my 2017 highlights. You’re welcome to share yours as well.

Happy 2018! 😀 Here’s to another year full of opportunities and adventures for all of us. #DreamBig

FILMS

  • Loving Vincent
  • Baby Driver
  • The Beguiled
  • A United Kingdom
  • Murder on the Orient Express
  • Goodbye Christopher Robin
  • Lady Bird
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • Coco
  • The Greatest Showman
  • Spiderman: Homecoming
  • Thor: Ragnarok
  • Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle

TV SHOWS

  • Reign: The Final Season
  • The Crown
  • Big Little Lies
  • The Orville

MUSIC

  • What’s That Sound? – Haley Reinhart
  • Baby Driver Soundtrack – Various Artists
  • Anastasia Broadway Soundtrack – Christy Altomare & Cast
  • Meaning of Life – Kelly Clarkson
  • Glory Days: Platinum Edition – Little Mix
  • Robin Hood Soundtrack: Disney Legacy Collection – Various Artists

NOVELS

  • The Last Tudor – Phillipa Gregory
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – J.K. Rowling
  • All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
  • The Land of Stories Series – Chris Colfer
  • Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty
  • The Witches of New York – Ami McKay

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