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By Nathan Gordon | ng312310@ohiou.edu | @GordonRises
Dark Skies | Directed by Scott Stewart | Rated PG-13
RATING: 2/5

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First Words

The people behind the marketing for Dark Skies TRIED to convince people to see their movie by stating that Jason Blum (producer) not only produced this film but also produced other popular scary movies like Paranormal Activity and Insidious (which, in my opinion, are two of the best movies to come out of the horror genre in the last several years). The marketers also quickly and quietly promoted that Scott Stewart (director) also directed Priest and Legion (two um…not so great movies). Going by the previous quality of work done by those two men, I’ll just let you figure out whose presence seems to shine more in this film.

Plot

A family’s life is disturbed when unexplained things start happening around then. They soon learn that they are under watch from a force that’s not from this world. The family must figure out what this force wants from them and why before it’s too late.

Positives

Dark Skies is one of the more calm scary movies I have seen of late-even though I don’t believe that’s what the makers behind the film were going for-but in this case it wasn’t a bad thing. The film immediately gets into the strange things happening to the family. Each incident gets more bizarre, but the level of bizarre doesn’t increase at a dramatic rate; the next just gets a tad bit stranger. The fact that something was constantly going on kept my attention and was somewhat entertained by it. On top of all that, the story attempted to throw in the added on stress of financial troubles for the family and the building tension between Daniel Barrett (Josh Hamilton) and his wife Lacy Barrett (Keri Russell). Unfortunately, these elements did not play a big role in the film as the movie got closer to wrapping up. But the idea itself was a nice addition, and would have made for a more interesting film, if implemented correctly. I still did enjoy when those pieces of the story were actually put into play.

Negatives

I realize that while pointing out the positives for the film, I also pretty much mentioned some of its negatives. I can’t help that what was good about this film couldn’t just be a good element by itself instead of being just a good piece inside of something could have been done much better overall. With that said, I won’t touch on those points here because I’m sure you all get the point by now. I’ll just move on to the fact that it’s clear Blum was a part of Paranormal Activity franchise and Insidious, but it doesn’t seem like he had a lot to say in what was actually in those films. I say that because the only resemblance from those films I see in Dark Skies are the loud score used to anticipate scares, similar to Insidious, and the video camera in the house technique used in Paranormal Activity 2. The only big differences are the quality of the films and how effective those elements are. Dark Skies falls behind those films in both categories. Even the overall look of the film Dark Skies falls behind. All these movies had fairly small budgets, but Dark Skies looks the cheapest to the point where it comes off silly. The “terrifying” creatures in the film are the least scary things I have ever seen, and playing loud music when they appear isn’t going to change that.

My biggest pet peeve with scary movies is a bad ending. For me, the overall quality of a scary movie could easily hinge on its ending. Dark Skies disappoints in this department too. The whole movie leading up to the third act feels like a waste, and when they even tried to explain why, it didn’t clearly explain it. That left me somewhat confused.

Last Words

The end of Dark Skies tried to lean toward the possibility of a sequel, but the makers of the film need to remove that thought from their heads (if they don’t, I’m sure the critics and the box office results will do it for them). Luckily for Dark Skies, the ending didn’t completely shred any sort of entertainment value I gained from first two acts. For a boring scary movie, I wasn’t as bored as I should have been.

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By Meryl Gottlieb| mg986611@ohiou.edu| @buzzlightmeryl
Smash airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on NBC
Rating: 2/5

Smash - Season 2

Had Jennifer Hudson not agreed to be a part of this season of Smash, I do not know what the writers would have done. Right now, she is the only great thing about the show, and she isn’t even a cast member – she’s just a guest star.

Tonight’s episode, “The Song,” was only acceptable because of JHud’s phenomenal talents.

Sadly, this may be her last guest appearance for now. We’ll cry about it together later.

Veronica’s (Jennifer Hudson) idea to do a one-night only concert is happening now and will be filmed by Bravo for the television audience, but Derek (Jack Davenport) is just on a yelling spree for most of the rehearsals.

Because of Derek’s desire for something new for Veronica to do, Karen (Katharine McPhee) calls Jimmy (Jeremy Jordan) and Kyle (Andy Mientus) to pitch their songs. Derek agrees to give them a shot. Well, “one shot is all it takes” so here ya go.

The dramaturg now has a name – Peter (Daniel Sunjata) – and he invites Julia (Debra Messing) to come to his class at NYU. She thinks she is giving a lecture, but he actually invited her to come hear his students perform Bombshell. I like this guy. He’s surprising and critical – something both Bombshell and Smash need.

The students tear the play to pieces, and Julia is furious and insulted. Ugh, her over-reaction to about any critique toward Bombshell has become quite annoying. Obviously the show needs work if it didn’t go straight to Broadway. Suck it up and listen!

Smash - Season 2Veronica’s mom (Sheryl Lee Ralph) is wonderful: the typical monster mom-manager character but not too over-the-top. She challenges Derek and the sexualized direction he is pushing Veronica in because Veronica is not comfortable with that.

In an attempt to write a new song for Veronica’s show, Jimmy is feeling the pressure but Karen seems to be his muse, for when she is in the room with him, suddenly all the words come. Oh really. So not only is she Derek’s muse but also Jimmy’s?! The girl who is horrible at acting and whispers her lines half the time is your muse? You have to be joking.

Nick (Thorsten Kaye) returns to turn himself in so Eileen (Anjelica Huston) can continue on with Bombshell. He turns himself in, but she still confesses she knew about where the money came from despite Jerry’s (Michael Cristofer) warnings to stay out of it.

Derek has decided to cave and just do the show Veronica would feel comfortable with, thus Jimmy’s new fantastic song that he and Karen are so happy about – they actually smile – is no longer needed, sending Jimmy into his macho manly anger mode, so he storms off.

I am more than done with Jimmy’s wannabe-bad boy, careless attitude. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Yeah, I just said that. That’s HOW done I am with Jimmy.

Not only does the character lack any depth, Jordan, as much as it may kill me to say, does a terrible job acting on this show. All he does is act, poorly, drunk/high, yell or look uninterested. Jordan was nominated for a Tony for his work on Newsies, but his performance on Smash makes that reality seem impossible.

Worse than his acting, however, is Karen’s. All I have to say is that she acts like Kristen Stewart to show how terrible McPhee’s performance is. She’s pretty monotone for her dialogue and her face lacks any emotion 80 percent of the time.

But I digress…

Jimmy goes missing after Derek’s rejection. Karen finds him high on some drug that he thinks he’s cool for doing, but she convinces him to return to the theater to show that he can handle rejection. Oh really? The kid who is obviously high is able to handle rejection well. Ok.

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On the way back into the theater, Jimmy and Karen kiss, and it’s awkward. Not only is the kiss itself awkward but then Karen follows with, “Let’s try that again when you’re not high.” Aaaahhh! I’m so done with the both of them.

 

 

After talking with Peter, Julia finally realizes something is wrong with the play. It doesn’t work because she’s trying to convey it through Marilyn’s point of view when she actually relates much more to the men in Marilyn’s life. Thus, the show must be done from the men’s perspectives.

Now that is interesting. You mean society isn’t misogynistic enough already?

What is not cool is that Peter is already starting to make moves on Julia. Stop it. Now.

Last minute, Veronica decides to do Derek’s sexualized version of “I Got Love,” and it’s fantastic. Then she performs Jimmy and Kyle’s song “I Can’t Let Go” and blows the house away. JHud’s performance is top-notch all of the time and no one can deny her vocal abilities. The two points out of five for this episode are only because of JHud’s two performances.

Veronica invites Jimmy and Kyle on stage – and let the fame battle begin.

Ellis1Bombshell is free to run on Broadway but not with Eileen as producer. Instead, Jerry will take over. Apparently, Jerry paid Ellis off to get the file on Nick so that Eileen would be out and realize that she needs Jerry. Watching the episode, I missed this Ellis quip but Tumblr and my friends are ablaze at the notion of his return and I have the same sentiments.

JOSHUA SAFRAN YOU PROMISED HE WOULD NOT RETURN!!!

By Meryl Gottlieb| mg986611@ohiou.edu| @buzzlightmeryl
How I Met Your Mother airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBS
Rating: 3/5

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After last week’s phenomenal performance, tonight’s episode, “Weekend at Barney’s,” was not up to par – a terrible trend that the show continually repeats.

Jeanette (Abby Elliott) goes crazy and trashes Ted’s (Josh Radnor) apartment, again. Yet, he doesn’t care because he has some weird fixation with how crazy she is for him. Unexpectedly, she decides to break up with him.

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I concur with Robin (Cobie Smulders) and Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) for celebrating.

Not only is that crazy lady not going to be at their wedding, for Ted had planned on her being his plus one, but also she’s crazy and not even in a funny, ok way.

 

Jeanette’s craziness has become too much. His weird fascination with her obsession over him is disgusting. How does he suddenly realize he’s mature enough to want to get married when he’s with a girl simply because the sex is good and because she is so into him. Nonsense!

For her new job, Lily (Alyson Hannigan) takes Marshall (Jason Segel) to an art gallery opening, where he will have his last big of Skittles ever. Oh, really? Is that supposed to draw me in?

The sad thing is, this is one of the best moments of the episode.

With Ted back on the market, Barney sets out to use the playbook to get Ted a new date for the wedding. Apparently, when he burned the playbook, he only burned the ceremonial version and the executive copy still resides. A president joke?! Well done writers, only clever people such as I will get that one. High five!

Barney coaches Ted through several plays that, of course, all fail. The interaction between these two was fantastic. It was exactly like the old Ted and Barney. Ted’s performance while taking the orders was phenomenal and Barney is always top-notch. Well done, boys.

Marshall is having a hard time mixing with the people at the art show. His jokes aren’t working for some reason. Maybe it’s just because I love puns or because I love Marshall, but how could anyone not find him adorable and hilarious!

During the artist’s speech, the infamous Skittles bag opens and when it is supposed to be a moment of silence, the entire bag empties and Segel’s face is priceless.

The writers seem to undermine Segel’s comedic abilities sometimes. That scene and the entire part of the storyline would have been completely idiotic had Segel’s performance lacked. Use him more!!!!

Robin comes to talk to Barney and sees that the playbook is still intact. Obviously, she is furious and storms out. No, my babies! Make up soon!

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Barney rushes after her and tells her that he won’t stop lying but under all of the lies is the only truth that he loves her – a monologue he does while performing magic tricks. NPH perfection. Only with Barney could someone say that they will lie but they love you so it’s ok and I’ll still believe it and root for their love.

 

Marshall’s puns and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reference got Lily to speak with the artist and possibly make a deal for The Captain. Awh, it all worked out well. Yay!

tumblr_inline_mit6h2zTfp1qz4rgpAfter finding Ted doing these plays, Jeanette got back together with him until she found the playbook in his apartment and went ballistic. She even puts fireworks in the playbook and destroys it for good.

Finally, Ted realizes he’s done with her – and dating, too – and decides he’ ready to get married, which Bob Saget narrates as the truth, “The first time in my life that I really meant it.”

I am overly glad we have made it to this point, but I don’t think Ted is mature enough for the relationship with The Mother yet, which will probably play out in season nine. He has continually said he was ready for marriage but continued to do stupid stuff to get women or participate in pointless relationships. He needs to show that he’s learned a lesson and has truly matured.

My guess? He will meet The Mother by the end of this season, not be mature enough for the relationship and cause some problem and the two will finally get together at the end of the ninth season. Any bets?

By Meryl Gottlieb| mg986611@ohiou.edu| @buzzlightmeryl
How I Met Your Mother airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBS
Rating: 5/5

The Ashtray

So, this episode may or may not have aired last week and I may or may not have missed it. I apologize greatly but now you get a double dose of How I Met Your Mother in one night.

Anyway, this episode was PHENOMENAL. Not only did it use HIMYM’s most unique aspect – its possibility for manipulation of time – but it also advanced the overall plot, something that has lately been missing in most episodes.

When The Captain (Kyle MacLachlan) randomly calls Ted (Josh Radnor), he panics when he recalls the last time the two met. At an art gallery opening, Ted, Lily (Alyson Hannigan) and Robin (Cobie Smulders) ran into The Captain since he apparently is one of the biggest art collectors in New York.

Ted is convinced The Captain is still mad about Zoey and is cautious around him but seems to handle himself quite coolly. When The Captain reveals he has a new love interest, Ted investigates it is Becky (Laura Bell Bundy) – the “Boats, Boats, Boats” girl – who Ted had rebound with after Zoey, so again he is stealing The Captain’s girl.

At this point, I was rather unamused, thinking it was just going to be another filler episode. Boy, was I wrong.

Back in the present, The Captain calls again but instead of threatening Ted, he instead asks for Robin. Robin then tells what really happened that night…

Ted had “smoked a sandwich” and was out of his mind, which resulted in such hilarity that the show has been missing in awhile. The Captain was actually out to be with Robin the entire time.

Having multiple versions of a story and realizing the truth in each is one of the best things HIMYM has going for it. The ability to play with time is so quintessential to the show; when it is handled right, it is hilarious and excellent.

However, when Robin calls The Captain, he tells her he is actually looking for Lily. Dun, dun, duuuuuunnnnn. Lily then tells what truly happened…

Ted was high and Robin was super drunk – perfectly acted by both Radnor and Smulders, well done. Robin was actually very flirty with The Captain and every moment was hilarious! Cobie Smulders deserves some attention for her comedy; why she hasn’t had in it the past is a crime.

After making a comment about a painting he should have purchased, The Captain made a rude remark about Lily just being a kindergarten teacher and not knowing anything about art. So, she stole the very expensive crystal ashtray he had. And she should have! Lily is wonderful and no one can tell her otherwise!

During this whole retelling of stories, Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) continually insisted he was a part of this “crazy story.” In the end, we find out that he tried so hard to be a part of it because that’s what he has going for him. So, in an incredibly sweet way Ted and Robin remind Barney of how he actually was involved.

While not super prevalent to the storyline, I thought it was an adorable moment between friends. Barney has grown a lot during the series and this showed his growth but also showed his old side that we all had come to love.

Marshall (Jason Segel) argues that Lily should return the ashtray but she refuses because she says The Captain was right. She is just a kindergarten teacher; she never pursued her dream to be involved in the art world. Awh. Lily has often been the comedic relief in some episodes; it’s nice to see her have a good, solid storyline.

To comfort her, Marshall is even more sweet than normal. He tells her that the best days are ahead of her and more adorable cheer-up talk. I just love these two so much!!!!

The Captain actually never knew the ashtray was gone. Really? An expensive crystal ashtray? Oh, well. However, he wanted to talk with Lily because he ended up taking her advice about the painting, which has now increased its value tenfold.

Thus, he offers her a job to be his new art consultant and she accepts!!

Adorable moments for the characters, the cast was hilarious in this episode, AND the ending helped move the plot forward and brightened up Lily’s future that she was so dismal about a few weeks back.

Beautiful work, writers. Well done.

By Will Ashton | wa054010@ohiou.edu
Amour | Directed by Michael Haneke | Rated PG-13
RATING: 4/5

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When the nominations for this year’s Oscars were released, it’s safe to say that very few people were expecting to find Amour among the Best Picture nominees.

Despite winning the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival – and pretty much picking up awards left and right at various awards ceremonies- the idea that this film would gather enough cloud to not only pick up a nomination in the highest category, but also in the Best Director category, just seemed very unlikely.

But, alas, Amour became the first non-British foreign film to be nominated in both the Best Picture and Best Director categories, in addition to the Best Foreign Picture section, since Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon back in 2000 (who is, coincidentally, also up for Best Picture and Director for Life of Pi this year).

The film only a couple people even heard about has now become one of the most recognized films of this year’s ceremony, scoring five nominations, including Best Actress and Best Original Screenplay. So is the movie worth all the hype? Short and simple: yes. Yes it is.

The plot for Amour is rather simple. Anne and Georges, a couple of 80-something-year-old retired music teachers, are tested in their commitment to one another when Anne receives a terminal stroke. Afraid of doctors and hospitals, Anne has Georges promise her that he’ll take care of her during these troublesome times. Georges continues to care and provide for Anne, but as her health continually relicenses, he begins to wonder how much he is possible able to do.

Amour focuses entirely on the small details. The plot centers, mainly, on its two central characters, and the majority of the film takes place inside their apartment. It is a cinematic play. Writer/director Michael Haneke reserved, yet intimate, style lets the characters breathe naturally, while also letting the audience know and care about this people. He always allows the camera to see these characters from a distance. He replicates the sensation of watching this show from a stage, yet gives every detail and frame so much care and focus that we never miss a thing, even when you are only told quite little about these characters.

As Georges and Anne, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Academy-Award nominated Emmanuelle Riva pack in powerhouse performances. Their performances are very subtle, yet they throw themselves fully and completely in their roles. In particular, Riva’s character transformation throughout is haunting but captivating, as we slowly and painfully watch Anne lose herself to her condition. But as the heart of the film, Trintignant gives so much humanity and heartbreak in his performance that it’s almost as hard to watch Georges as it is to watch Anne.

Despite making the remake of Funny Games (he also directed the original)- the most pointless remake since Gus Van Sant’s “reinterpretation” of Psycho- Haneke has always remained a captivating filmmaker. Once again, he has made another powerful yet heartbreaking look at humanity. In fact, this is likely one of his best films of the past decade. His writing is so realistically honest and his direction is masterfully sure-handed.  

There is one factor that holds this film back from being a truly great film: it’s ending. As much as I love subtle endings, the finale of this film feels as though Haneke did not know how to end his picture. As an audience member, it leaves you confused and slightly underwhelmed that the movie didn’t end on as high of a note as it should. Not that it is ever bad per se, but its lackluster finale leaves you believing that there was a better way to end this story.

Amour is not a fun film to watch. There will be people who will simply not like this film for being what it is. It’s a film that you feel every minute going by, one by one. Throughout the film part, part of you wants to leave to stop watching these characters’ pain, part of you just wants to cry, another part of you wants to keep watching to find out what’s going to happen next, and then another part of you is just so captivated by the film’s bittersweet beauty, filmed wonderfully by cinematographer Darius Khondji.

But for those patient and willing to take in this film’s power will be completely blown away by the film’s haunting captivity. It’s not a pleasant film, but it’s a fantastically well-made film that deserves to be seen.

By Nathan Gordon | ng312310@ohiou.edu | @GordonRises

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The biggest night for movies is now just days away with this years Academy Awards coming Sunday, February 24th. I’m looking forward to this years award show, not just because one of my favorite people in the entertainment business is hosting (it’s Seth MacFarlane, for those still guessing), but also because there are a lot of tight races in this year’s categories. All the uncertainty got me wanting to come up with my own predictions. So below I decided to share my predictions on a handful of the categories. Who knows, I might turn out to be psychic (or the complete opposite).

Best Picture

Amour

Argo

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Django Unchained

Les Misérables

Life of Pi

Lincoln

Silver Linings Playbook

Zero Dark Thirty

Prediction: I personally would love to see Django Unchained, my second favorite movie from the past year, walk away with the victory but I highly doubt this controversial film will win. So I’ll try to make an educated guess and say Argo will take home the award for Best Picture. Argo has been dominating this awards season, so it looks like this film has the best chance for victory. I won’t be upset if it does win since it was a fairly good movie.

Best Actor

Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook

Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln

Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables

Joaquin Phoenix, The Master

Denzel Washington, Flight

Prediction: I personally would like to see Bradley Cooper take the award home for his dramatic and comedic performance in Silver Linings Playbook. I do believe his actual chances of winning are decent, but I believe Daniel Day-Lewis will ultimately win. That choice would be fine with me, because now every time I think of Abraham Lincoln -which is not something I do several times throughout my day- I picture Day-Lewis. And I haven’t even seen Lincoln. I guess that means he must have done something right.

Best Actress

Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty

Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook

Emmanuelle Riva, Amour

Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Naomi Watts, The Impossible

Prediction: I believe this award is Jennifer Lawrence’s. I know that Jessica Chastain and Emmanuella Riva are her biggest competition, but I think she still gets her first Academy Award this year. Lawrence’s performance in Silver Linings Playbook showed she can really act, all while making us laugh and I don’t know about anyone else, but I was completely entertained.

Best Supporting Actor

Alan Arkin, Argo

Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook

Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master

Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln

Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

 

Prediction: I definitely believe this award should go to Leonardo DiCaprio for his villainous performance in Django Unchained…wait…oh yeah that’s right, he wasn’t nominated. I could go on a rant on how much of an outrage that is, but I’ll control myself. For those actually nominated, I think this award should go to DiCaprio’s Django Unchained costar Christoph Waltz. Django Unchained was filled with great performances and I think someone from that film should get recognized for it.

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams, The Master

Sally Field, Lincoln

Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables

Helen Hunt, The Sessions

Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook

Prediction: I think this award should go Anne Hathaway. To me, she has continuously showed that she is a major talent in the movie industry and I think it’s her time to get an Oscar to speak to that.

Best Animated Feature Film

Brave

Frankenweenie

ParaNorman

The Pirates! Band of Misfits

Wreck-It Ralph

 

Prediction: I might be the least qualified person to speak on this category since I haven’t seen any of these movies. But I have heard nothing but good things from Wreck-It Ralph and I hear that it is a frontrunner for in the category so I guess I’d say I bet against the Pixar film Brave. I will add that betting against Pixar hasn’t been a smart thing in the past.

Best Director

Michael Haneke, Amour

Ang Lee, Life of Pi

David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook

Steven Spielberg, Lincoln

Behn Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild

 

Prediction: I think the race for Best Director will be a good one. I don’t think anyone of the nominees have a clear lead over the others. My favorite film out of all the nominees is Silver Linings Playbook so I going to have to side with David O. Russell. I wouldn’t be surprised if Steven Spielberg walked away with the trophy though.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Tony Kushner, Lincoln

David Magee, Life of Pi

David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook

Chris Terrio, Argo

Benh Zeitlin, Lucy Alibar, Beasts of the Southern Wild

 

Prediction: I would love to see David O. Russell walk away with another victory, but I believe that Chris Terrio will win for Argo. I’m sensing domination by Argo in all of its non-acting categories.

Best Original Screenplay

Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola, Moonrise Kingdom

Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty

John Gatins, Flight

Michel Haneke, Amour

Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained

 

Prediction: I really hope and believe that Quentin Tarantino walks away with the victory. The original idea he came up with for Django Unchained was incredibly put together. I just believe Django Unchained should win wherever it has a slight chance to because it definitely deserves it.

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So after some time away, I’m back to do some weekly love letters. This week? A redhead with an angel voice.
Dearest Edward Christopher Sheeran,

Seeing you in person at the BRITs was one of my favourite moments. You didn’t perform (sadly) but you looked so gosh darn adorable in your suit and Nike shoes.

tumblr_mimosr7IX01qambhho1_500You are just one teddy bear of a man with a brilliantly beautiful voice and the ability to reach into the crevices of my soul with touching and magical lyrics.

Also, your version of “Little Things” which you brilliantly wrote and ever so graciously gave to One Direction? Perfection.

But my love for you is about more than that.

You are just so … chill. You crack jokes about your own awkwardness, you nonchalantly high-fived Sir Elton John at the Grammys, you played the Olympics closing ceremony in a red sweatshirt and you look adorable with stuffed animals.

And you are so gracious with charity work! You are the perfect being. Can you please just hug me?

You have some of the best quotes and are always making me laugh with your bluntness.

You have fantastic dance moves by the way.

So in conclusion, I’d just like to express that I think we should be best friends forever. What do you say?

And just in case you were wondering, I would very gladly sit next to you and play video games with a cute cat sitting on the couch next to us:

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I’m so not opposed.

Be my best friend?
Anjelica Oswald
@thisisjelli