Media, Darling: Natalia Manzocco

Natalia Manzocco heads up the Homes section and
copy edits at 24 Hours Canada, and writes about fashion and technology for QMI
Agency and Sun Media newspapers. In her “spare time” (a term she uses
extremely loosely) she plays guitar in The Cheap Speakers.



image source: Natalia Manzocco

Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what
other careers were on the horizon?
In grade four, I wrote and designed my own one-page
“newspaper” full of book reviews and handed it out at school. I
probably should have seen this coming, all things considered. 
Things really crystallized in high school, when I learned
that the drummer from Barenaked Ladies (my preteen heroes — I was about as cool
as you might expect) went to Ryerson for radio and television studies. Further
investigation revealed that Ryerson had a well-known journalism program, and
there it was. Thanks, Tyler.
Where would you like to be five years from now?
Surrounded by lifestyle content ’round the clock, working
on putting together a beautiful, engaging and fun product (print, magazine, web
— wherever).
Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Meet lots of people, be nice to them, and expand your
network of contacts. You never know what doors will open. 
Be prepared to go where the opportunities are; I was
lucky enough to find internships and summer jobs that took me to Calgary and
New Brunswick. Let the wind blow you around.
What are your favourite media outlets, not including your
own?
Truth be told, I probably spend
more time reading the exploits of Twitter’s army of wisecracking Torontonians
than any established media source. But I typically go to the Toronto Star for breaking
news, the New York Times for feats of long-form daring, the Globe and Mail for
a little of each of those things, and Refinery29 and The Cut for fashion
content. I also have severe Lucky Magazine problems. If it takes too long to
show up in my mailbox I start twitching.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
Notable sweet, chatty people include Jason Reitman, Josh
Ritter, and Jay Ferguson from Sloan.
Worst?
I interviewed the drummer from a hardcore band who had
just released his own solo record. He sat reclined on the green room couch with
his feet up and responded to all of my questions like so: Yah. No. Yah. Every
drummer joke I’ve ever heard: validated.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
I’ve been given plenty, but I also have the memory of a
goldfish. Much the stuff that has stuck with me can be found in the lyrics to
Nada Surf’s 2005 album The Weight Is A Gift.
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Don’t be afraid to take the shot. If you find a door,
give it a wee push and see what happens.
What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
This is just going to end up being a list of pet peeves.
I apologize in advance.
– Please don’t call and follow up on a pitch you sent me
that morning. My focus is so limited (homes, tech, style) that I just may not
be able to utilize the pitch you’ve sent. If I can, though, you’ll certainly be
hearing back from me!
– You don’t really need to put my name on the press
release. Personal touches are great, but I completely understand if you want to
reduce the odds of slipping up on the ol’ copy-paste and calling me Terry or
Steve or, God forbid, Natalie.
– If you’re sending releases and samples in the mail,
please don’t use a box big enough to fit a flat press release into when all
you’re mailing along is a tiny, tiny lipstick. Get a padded envelope. Get rid of
that fancy folder. Anything. I CAN HEAR TREES WEEPING.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear
about #wins.
Much of what I do is pretty on-the-fly, so when I send an
email frantically seeking high-res art or a product’s Canadian
availability/MSRP and the rep gets right back to me, I tell you, the angels
sing. I try not to assume that everyone’s at their desk ready to help me out
all of the time, but it’s absolutely marvelous when someone is prepared with
all the necessary info and materials and can get you out of a tight jam.
I hate?
Copy editor hours. Getting to wake up late is pretty
great, but I will unfortunately never be able to attend anyone’s awesome
late-afternoon event. Gotta build me a paper.
I love?
Polka dots, stripes, glittery stuff, Fender guitars with
matching headstocks, Blanche de Chambly, and my cat (who is himself striped).
Reading?
I still need to finish Grace Coddington’s autobiography,
which I was distracted from a couple weeks ago. The last one before that was
Who I Am by Pete Townshend. Next on deck is The Good Girls Revolt: How theWomen of Newsweek Sued their Bosses and Changed the Workplace by Lynn Povich.
Best place on earth?
Zingerman’s deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Dinner guest?
My dad, from whom I inherited all of my foodie
tendencies. I would bring my A and A+ games for that meal.
Hero?
Novelist/YouTuber John Green, Lena Dunham, Jenna Lyons,
and Electric Six lead singer Dick Valentine. And my mum. And Keith Moon.
Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these
days)?
I’m a bit of a beer nerd; lately I’ve been tracking all
the brews I sample through Untappd, which is a fun little social media app that
lets you rate and review beers, check in to wherever you drank them, and earn
badges, Foursquare-style. Thanks to the guys at C’est What for most of the stuff
on my “tried” list. I’ll see you tonight, probably.
Pool or ocean?
Ocean. You can actually sit and hang out by the ocean and
enjoy it without having to actually get in (something I would prefer to avoid).
Pools are significantly less fun to observe.
Voicemail or email?
Email, always.


image source: Natalia Manzocco
“The internet loves cats”

Fave Five: Cheap Eats

While we do enjoy luxury and decadence up here on the fourth floor, we also know it’s important to stick to your budget. So when it comes time to pinch our
pennies, we try and make the best of Toronto’s sky high cost of living with
it’s delicious bargains abound. From ramen noodles on Dundas east to tacos
on St. Clair west, this city is overflowing with multicultural
delicacies that won’t break the bank. Although it’s a pretty tough task,
we set out to find our favorite five cheap eats.

North of Brooklyn Pizzeria

Relatively
new to our great city, North of Brooklyn Pizzeria has all the right ingredients
to make a great slice. Located at 650 1/2 Queen Street West,
owners Josh Spatz, Alex Potter and Frank Pinello set
out to make high end pizza at a low end cost. With fresh, never frozen
ingredients, patrons have the choice of five different slices all under $5.00.
Just one bite of this Neapolitan delight and you’ll be hooked.
Banh
Mi Boys


The
boys have returned with a vengeance and in our humble opinions, they’ve never
tasted better. With line-ups out the door, these sammies are not to be missed.
For just $5.99 you can delve into Braised Beef Cheek, slow cooked and topped
with onion chutney and if your feeling extra hungry top it off with a side of
kimchi fries.
Santouka Ramen 

Have
you heard? Ramen is all the rave. Toronto is packed with great noodle joints,
but here at rock-it we’re particularly fond of Santouka Ramen, located at 91 Dundas St. East.  For just $11, 
Santouka’ s mix simmering pork broth with
delectable chewy noodles, making the perfect winter food to warm your belly.


Albert’s Real Jamaican Foods

Especially in the winter, nothing hits the spot like a warm, spicy Jamaican dish. A small jerk chicken is just $7.50 and comes with rice, peas and coleslaw. Or if you want to be more authentic, a traditional Jamaican oxtail dinner, also with rice, peas and coleslaw is a mere $10. If you’re really scrimping, a beef or vegetable patty is just $1.35. Dem’s cheap, delicious eats. 


Tacos El Asador


Right
in the heart of Koreatown, you can find some of the best tacos north of the
border, and they were cranking out delicious, authentic tacos long before the current taco craze hit the city. With a smorgasbord 
of options all under $10, Tacos El Asador is a great place to grab a quick bite
or take out for more intimate dining experience. We went on many a student date here, but it still lives up to standards now that we’re all grown up.



Fashion-able: Most outrageous trends

Very few things are as socially objective or as quickly
evolving as fashion and trends.  What is considered chic, cool or elegant
varies to an insane degree, depending on time and place. What you end up
with is an endless history of fascinating fashion choices – mainstream,
underground, beautiful, hideous and some just downright confusing. Here
are some of the more outrageous fashion trends we’ve seen in recent history.


Bagel Heads
While we are totally on board with Japanese street fashion
being crazy and cutting edge, this is one we can’t wrap our heads around,
so to speak. This temporary body modification was pioneered in Canada and
became a sensationalized fetish trend in the Japanese underground scene. Dedicated bagel heads undergo a two hour saline drip into their forehead to
achieve the look, for results that last a mere 24 hours, until the body absorbs
the solution. At this point, no negative side effects have been reported
(besides looking like you have a bagel embedded under your face skin)
and while there is no proof or real speculation of this, we believe it may have
been inspired by a particularly disturbing Halloween episode of The Simpsons.

Le Sapeurs

For the decked out men of Le SAPE (which stands for Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes for you
franglais speakers,) bold fashion choices are not just a trend, but a way of
life. Inspired by French decadence and style, the so-called Gentlemen of the Bakongo are based in the slums of the French Congo and wear their flamboyant, designer
suits as a sign of their religion of elegance. Sapeurs abide by a strict
code of honour, nobility and morality which includes shunning violence –
A Sapeur does not shed blood. Your clothes do all the fighting for you, otherwise you are not fit to be called a Sapeur.” The men of the SAPE have been embraced as local celebrities, often being paid
to attend parties and weddings, and have recently been featured in the Solange
Knowles video for Losing You.

Meggings

You know the old axiom “what’s good for the goose is good
for the gander”? Well, friends, it might be fair to say this has been
proven wrong in the case of meggings. To clarify, meggings = male leggings, and
it is possible that they originated as an act of revenge from the fashion gods
against all women who used tights and leggings for evil (a.k.a. in lieu of real
pants. If you’re not sure if you’re one of those women please seek guidance
here.) While we do give props to men daring enough to try to pull them off, we urge
you not to put them on in the first place.

Mexican Pointy Boots



When you think of footwear fetishists and enthusiasts, one
generally thinks of a Carrie Bradshaw-esque closet full of Manolos and
Louboutins. Not so with this all-male sub culture of Mexican tribal
dancers. They don elaborately embellished boots with elongated toes
curled up to five feet. Originating in Matehuala, Mexico, the boots rose in
popularity alongside a genre of music called “tribal guarachero” which has
been described as
“a mixture of Pre-Columbian and African sounds mixed with fast cumbia bass and electro-house beats.” Mexican Pointy Boots are typically worn by dance troupes at competitions,
parties and weddings and were the subject of a short documentary by
Vice.

The 80’s

While we did mention the constantly evolving nature of
fashion, we should have also mentioned that it tends to be cyclical. That is to
say, we don’t always forget our mistakes. What was once considered a
decade of fashion face-palming is now creeping back into what is hip. We’ve seen a resurgence of the good, bad, and the ugly of 80’s fashion, including bushy brows, shoulder pads, and Day-glo (thanks a lot for this
one, LMFAO.) Anyone who has seen a hypercolour t-shirt on a hot day knows this
isn’t all good news. What is good news is that in no time, we’ll
have moved on to channeling some other decade’s hits and misses (fingers
crossed for hoop skirts and pantaloons!).






Rave: Academy Awards 2013

How did everyone enjoy the Tony Awards last night? Juuuust kidding. As if M’Obama would ever get all dressed up to present Best Musical. There was a whole lot of singing last night though, so you can understand our confusion. We’ll get to that in a minute. Big ups to the FLOTUS for using this opportunity to chat about the importance of the arts.  


So, the Academy Awards. They were long, but what else is new. Host Seth MacFarlane tried his best but it all felt quite lacklustre and a teeny bit misogynistic? Whatever, that is a debate best left for Vice Magazine; we’re here to talk about celebrities. Let’s get to it. 


The Dresses!

There was a whole lotta strapless happening on the red carpet last night. We suppose the Oscars aren’t the place to take a sartorial risk, but this year seemed a lot tamer than in the past. Where was Bjork when you needed her? That being said, there were a few stand-outs. 




Best Actress nominee Naomi Watts went with a bit of a riskier choice with her sparkly Armani Prive gown. The colour and cut-out were just a little bit futuristic (in the best way).  




Charlize Theron slayed us in her Christian Dior Haute Couture dress. The tailoring, coupled with her short hair, was a strapless dress we could really get behind. Plus, it was white and didn’t remind us of a wedding dress (ahem, Jennifer Lawrence). Success!

We were into Amanda Seyfried’s Alexander McQueen gown, particularly the subtle colour and pattern, along with a high neck. Her hair could’ve been a bit better, but all in all, it was a good showing. 




America’s Sweetheart looked damn fine in Elie Saab last night. It was sheer and sexy, but in a classy, Oscar-appropriate way. Way to go, Sandra Bullock. As usual.




We absolutely adored Sally Field’s red Valentino gown. The colour was great, the detailing around the chest was flattering… all of it, was a delight. We almost forgot about her making out with Seth MacFarlane. 



Now, this was a contentious dress. Anne Hathaway seemed to be following the Gwyneth Paltrow Oscar check-list (Pale pink? Check. Satin? Check. Diamonds? Check.) but her Prada had chest darting that could take an eye out. The dress’s real appeal was the back and the double-whammy of decoration — a sash and necklace. 


The Musical is Back! 




From start to finish, this year’s show was jam-packed with musical numbers. Some missed the mark (sorry, boob song), but we loved Channing Tatum and Charlize Theron’s Ginger & Fred dance number. It would’ve been better if they’d done a little Ginuwine at the end, but whatever. 




We aren’t really sure why Chicago is supposed to still be relevant. A song AND the cast presents? That’s a bit much. Catherine Zeta-Jones looked killer, and her dance moves brought us right back to 2002, but next time… maybe a bit more rehearsal time? If you’re going to lip-synch at the Oscars, at least do it well. 


Kudos to the cast of Les Miserables for giving us goosebumps. Actually, make that kudos to Samantha Barks for just blowing it out of the water last night. Is this what people sound like on stage in the West End? Because, buy us a ticket to London, stat. 




Best memoriam of all time? YEP! Barbara Streisand sings “The Way We Were” and we can die happy now, thanks. Also, anyone else notice the publicist who was included this year? Mad props.


The Winners!

“Is Ben Affleck having a stroke?” – text we received after Argo won Best Picture. He certainly seemed a little shaken when Grant Hezlov was speaking. We can’t say we were surprised by this win (in fact, we totally called it), but Affleck seemed genuinely in shock. We’ll attribute his weird wife-thanking to that. 


Speaking of shaken, how freaking adorable was Jennifer Lawrence? The girl looked like she was about to barf with happiness. But can we talk about Hugh Jackman running to help her up after she tripped for a second? THE BEST. Here’s a gif, in case you missed it. 

After last night, we think it’s safe to say that Adele (at only 24 years old) is on track to win an EGOT and we can’t think of anyone more deserving of this honour. What a delightful human she is. Can you believe that she and Taylor Swift are the same age? Anyways, Adele is awesome and makes us feel very unaccomplished, but we don’t even care.




And finally, KStew & JLaw! Just a couple of besties hanging out on the red carpet. SWOON. (Ed. note: the swoon is also contentious on the fourth floor).


All photos are courtesy of Just Jared

Stage Write: Winter Theatre Lineup

We’re feeling dramatic (again) so the lovely Christine Gresham of Theatre Isn’t Dead popped by the Fourth Floor to share her theatre picks for the upcoming chilly months. 


We’re well on our way in 2013 and so far so good. We made it through the end of
the Mayan calendar unscathed, it’s (usually) cold enough that we can adorn our winter
duds without fear of an onslaught of slush from a passing car, and we’re in the
thick of the winter theatre season.

Obviously one of your new year’s
resolutions (the one that you’ll actually keep) is to see more theatre. And like
a good personal trainer, I’m here to help.

Here are some shows that will exercise your theatrical chops; none are too laborious and all will leave you
feeling invigorated and healthy. You may even wipe some sweat from your brow in
the process.



Clybourne Park, a Studio 180 production as part of the Off-Mirvish series. 


Now through Sunday, March 3 at the Panasonic Theatre (651 Yonge St.)


Prize-winning theatre started at the Panasonic Theatre on February 12. As part of the Off-Mirvish series, Tony, Olivier, Evening Standard and Pulitzer Prize-winning Clybourne Park will undoubtedly knock your socks off. The Studio 180 production is back for a second time after a critically acclaimed run last spring at Canadian Stage. I missed it in NYC and I don’t intend to do so in T.O. The uniformally rave reviews and the stellar word-of-mouth buzz ensure that this play will be the talk of the town.


Tickets: http://www.mirvish.com

Cast of Clybourne Park.

Sem Mim & Ímã by Grupo Corpo, part of Harbourfront Centre’s World Stage program.

Now through Saturday, February 23 at The Fleck Dance Theatre (207 Queens Quay W.)

Sem MimÍmã features two brilliant dance productions by the Brazillian dance troupe Grupo Corpo. Part of Harbourfront Centre’s World Stage, Sem Mim merges the rhythm of the sea with medieval Portuguese-Galician chants, while Ímã takes inspiration from the law of magnetism. The performances beautifully combine classical ballet technique with a contemporary take on Brazilian world dance.


Brazilian Grupo Corpo dancers perform Ímã. 


Gabriel Prokofiev: From Chamber to Electronica, an Art of Time Ensemble performance. 


Friday, February 22 to Saturday, February 23 at The Enwave Theatre (231 Queens Quay W.)

If you’re like me, you don’t experience
classical music enough – mostly because it can be hard to find an entry point
and can also be a BIT snoozy (just being honest). Cue Art of Time Ensemble’s
latest gig in February. 
London DJ Gabriel Prokofiev (grandson of
Sergei) comes to the Art of Time Ensemble to continue the family tradition of
reinventing modern music. Prokofiev will add some spin to legendary modern
classical composers Gavin Bryars and Jonathan Goldsmith (BAFTA Award-winning
Canadian film composer) instrumentals. Prokofiev performs DJ sets between
performances, the type of classical music I can get into. Plus, the
creative/marketing campaign is amazi
ng.


Tickets: www.harbourfrontcentre.com 

Poster art for Art of Time Ensemble’s Gabriel
Prokofiev, created by Monnet Design.

Spotlight Japan, presented by Canadian Stage. 

Tuesday, February 26 to Saturday, March 2 at the Berkeley St. Theatre (26 Berkeley St.) 


For something completely different, I’m
into Canadian Stage’s Spotlight Japan. The series features a selection of
dance, drama and music from Japan’s leading arts innovators, and to be frank,
the entire line-up sounds unique and exciting. 
You can catch two double-bills: Haptic and Holistic
Strata
(double bill one) or Sayanora and I, Worker (double bill two). See one or see them both, because you aren’t likely to
see anything similar around these parts for a very long time.



Tickets: https://www.canadianstage.com 








Hiroaki Umeda in Holistic Strata. Photo by Ryuichi Maruo (YCAM). 


For a dose of classic theatre, check out
Soulpepper’s Rosencrantz and Gildenstern are Dead and for
contemporary Canadian drama, see Tarragon Theatre’s mini-festival of Hannah Moscovitch’s plays (until March 24). If you haven’t heard of her already you will soon, so get on the bandwagon while there’s still room.

With this regime you should be sufficiently
theatrically worked-out until spring, when you can flex your brain for the
summer festivals. A theatre-goer’s work is never done.

Bonne chance!

Media, Darling: Maggie Wrobel

Maggie started at the Globe and Mail in 2005 as a copy-editing intern
on the night News desk.

She was also part of the team that launched Globe Life (the
paper’s daily lifestyle section) in 2007. She worked as the production editor in the Style section for
five years before moving to her current position as assistant Arts
editor in the newly merged Life & Arts section in March of last year. In her current role she assigns and edits Arts stories both
short and long, with a particular eye to popular culture and music.

Image source: Maggie Wrobel

Twitter: @maggiewrobel

Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what
other careers were on the horizon?
In grade six, I wanted to work for the United Nations. By
the end of university, I was getting set to move to Africa and work for a
non-profit. But I’d always loved reading and writing, and spent several years
as a writer and editor at my university paper (UWO’s The Gazette).
 So, when I landed a summer copy-editing
internship at The Globe and Mail, I jumped on it. Eight years later, here I
still am.
Where would you like to be five years from now?
In the audience for Saturday Night Live‘s 43rd
anniversary special.
Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Don’t pretend you know what someone is talking about when
you don’t. I don’t believe in ‘fake it till you make it.’ I think asking
questions is important – it shows you’re curious and willing to learn. I’d pick
genuine enthusiasm over bravado any day. That said: read. Read everything. And
then read some more.
What are your favourite media outlets, not including your
own? 
The New York Times and New York Magazine are both leaders
in our field and offer much inspiration, especially in the ways in which
they’ve embraced digital content.


Newseum.org is a must-visit every morning, offering PDFs
of front pages from all over the world, and always leads to much surfing.


And I admit it surprised me, but Twitter has a great
rhythm for daily news, both high and low-brow.
Best interview you’ve ever had? Worst?
I had a lovely interview last year with Laura and Kate
Mulleavy, the visionary sister act behind Rodarte. They were gracious,
interesting and genuinely down-to-earth.
As for bad interviews, they do happen, and for many
different reasons. But there’s always a way to make a story great. You just
have to find it.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
When I was a young, eager up-and-comer, a colleague (now
friend) once told me she noticed I nodded a lot in meetings. I thought about
it, and she was right.
 I was trying to
seem encouraging and enthusiastic, but quickly realized that having a bit of a
poker face can actually be much more effective sometimes.
 Staying aware of your body sounds like a
silly thing, but the way you are perceived – even physically – can have a huge
effect on your career.
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Always, always be kind. It can be hard to put yourself
into other people’s shoes, but it is essential to at least try.
What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Know who you’re pitching to and what they do. Read
mastheads, stay on top of Twitter and, if you still don’t know, ASK. You’d be
shocked how many people still think I’m the travel editor, a post I held for
less than two months more than four years ago. (For the record, the Globe’s
real travel editor is Domini Clark, who gives the world’s best advice on
everything from banking to, ahem, body language in meetings.)
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear
about #wins.
Anyone who gets me what I need on deadline becomes that
day’s hero.
I hate?
Short-sightedness and pasta salad.
I love?
My job!
Also: the J. Crew catalogue, BarreWorks (the only
happy-making gym in the world), Moleskins, brunch and watching the tiny
inflatable Raptor bounce at Raptors games.
Reading?
Always.
Best place on earth?
A diner on Saturday with a stack of pancakes and a new
magazine.
Dinner guest?
J.D. Salinger! I’d probably nod a lot.
Hero?
I am lucky to have many. My mom is the strongest woman I
know and my dad the nicest man. My friend Lori Mastronardi is an amazing
wordsmith and has the incredible ability to always see the good in people and
situations. I also get a lot of strength and inspiration from hip-hop, be it
coming-up stories like Kendrick Lamar’s or the unapologetically upper-class
rhymes on Watch the Throne.
Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these
days)?
 I make a mean playlist. My day would not be the same
without Rdio for BlackBerry.
Pool or ocean?
Both, preferably within walking distance of each other.
Voicemail or email?
 Email. Or lunch.
Theatre show or cultural event you’re most looking
forward to this year?
The Arts & Crafts’ Field Trip has all the makings of a
killer time. Can’t wait. (Ed. note: we agree!)

Rave: Oscar Predictions

Hollywood’s big night is just days away – the 85th Academy Awards take place this Sunday, February 24. As the entire awards season leads up to this, anticipation is high. If you give a hoot about these awards, then you’ve likely got an Oscar pool you’re participating in (we highly recommend entering Lainey’s annual pool for some kickass prizes). While we aren’t going to reveal all our picks today – because duh, we want to win, too – we will share our insight into the nominees and the evening, in general. 


The BFF Connection


Wonder if Matt is jealous of George?



If anything has become evident this awards season, it’s that Best Picture is Ben Affleck’s to lose. Argo has been riding a massive wave of dominance, which is partly attributed to Affleck’s Best Director snub, partly because of the “perfect family” show he and wife Jennifer Garner have been putting on the past few months, and a lot due to his bestie and co-producer George Clooney. Clooney knows how to play the game and he’s been pressing a lot of flesh on behalf of Argo. Who could resist the Clooney charm? Not us, that’s for sure. The only real question left to ask is, will Clooney bring girlfriend Stacy Keibler with him to the Kodak? That would be two trips in a row, a new record. 

Tightest Races


Classic moments from JLaw & Bette.

There are a few categories that are way too close to call, among them Best Director and Best Actress. Also, Best Actor. We know, you’re all thinking “oh hey, who can challenge Daniel Day-Lewis? Nobody.” and yes, you’re right. But maybe, just maybe… Hugh Jackman can rip the bald statue out of DDL’s hands? That would be an upset. For Best Actress, we’re saying it’s between Jennifer Lawrence and Emmanuelle Riva. We love JLaw, but this won’t be her last time at the Kodak. Can’t say the same for Riva (sorry!). Finally, the most contentious category: Best Director. After the high-profile snubs of Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow, we weren’t sure what to think. Still don’t, to be honest. The power of Harvey Weinstein has us leaning towards David O. Russell, but Steven Spielberg and Ang Lee are also strong candidates. 

Locked Down


Shaved head + singing cry face = OSCAR!



We’ve already called Argo for the Best Picture win, but we’re sure you’re wondering what other categories are a lock. While there’s always a chance Academy voters will go rogue and have a change of heart, calling Anne Hathaway for the Best Supporting Actress win is about as close to a sure thing as you can get. Considering Amour was nominated in both the Best Picture and Best Foreign Language Film categories, we’re also pretty sure that Amour will take the non-English category. 


Lowered Expectations


Stewie! 

After the excitement of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosting the Golden Globes, we just can’t muster up much enthusiasm for the Oscar’s host, Seth MacFarlane. Don’t get us wrong, we love Family Guy and were thrilled to hear some of the show’s writers were contributing to the Oscars. And while MacFarlane is a talented vocal actor, we always want a little bit of Broadway (i.e. singing and dancing) in our telecast and don’t know if he can deliver. Not to mention, he’s already claimed that this is a “one-time thing” for him. Doesn’t really engender the most confidence. 


Magic Oscar


Please God, let this happen on Sunday. 



This year’s show has an impressive list of presenters and special guests, including the cast of The Avengers (Robert Downey Junior, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Chris Evans and Samuel L. Jackson), Barbara Streisand, Adele, Nicole Kidman, Paul Rudd, Jennifer Aniston, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Channing Tatum. There’s so many things we want to know! Is Babs going to sing? Will Aniston bring fiance Justin Theroux with her? How does Clooney feel about Theroux?  Are Kidman and Naomi Watts still besties? And, most importantly, is Channing Tatum going to take off his shirt?