It’s finally here! After a great collection of behind-the-scenes looks, set pictures, and a resounding approval by John Green, the Fault In Our Stars trailer arrived on Wednesday.

As much as I enjoyed all of the excitement (the name of the book/film was a top trending topic on Twitter), I was also reminded of the book itself: not as something to recommend or promote, as I’ve been happy to do, but as a story.

When I first got my hands on The Fault In Our Stars (TFiOS), I knew it was special. It made me laugh, it made think, it made me question, wonder, and re-define my views on death. A book like that doesn’t come along every day. I soaked it in as long as I could, discussing and suggesting and rereading. But there’s nothing quite like that first experience of reading a book, as all book lovers know. That experience, that wonderful, thoughtful, perspective-changing experience, is guaranteed only once per book.

Luckily for us, cultural phenomenons like The Fault in Our Stars don’t have a monopoly on the book business. The New York Times bestseller list (and many others!) hold many wonderful books. I’ve done my fair share of reading, and I found a few that helped me fill the TFiOS void with thoughtful commentary on the heavy topics of life and death.

1. ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’

thirteen-reasons-why-cover-200

This one’s been on the “must-read” shelf in nearly every bookstore I’ve been in for years. For a while, I refused to pick it up, mistaking it for a breakup story. My eventual insight into the book’s true content (i.e. reading the display at the library) pushed me to give it a try, and I’m so very glad I did.

The book is narrated by Clay, a teenage boy, but its true main character is his friend and classmate, Hannah Baker. When the story begins, Hannah is dead; she committed suicide weeks before. But she left something behind: Thirteen audio tapes that Clay one day finds at his door. Thirteen reasons why she died.

The reader sees the night Clay listens to the tapes. It alternates between Clay’s voice and that of a disembodied Hannah’s. This mode of storytelling is both clever and incredibly interesting. It allows for multiple perspectives on Hannah’s experience, but also gives the reader the strange experience of listening to a story along with an in-canon character. Often, I found myself reacting one way while Clay, holding previous knowledge, reacted another.

As I read, I felt like I was benefiting from two different sides of the book: the engaging and clever storytelling, and the thoughts and questions it had to offer. Hannah tells the story having already given up, and Clay listens to it carrying the burden of knowing that he can do nothing about it. He finds out more and more about the people he thought he knew, and discovers just the impact you can have on another person. Hannah describes her own example of the domino effect of others actions, giving a new perspective to both Clay and the reader. It brings up a lot of important questions. How do we know people? Do we really know them at all? Many of Clays reactions were insightful. As is the book on the whole: insightful, poignant, shocking, and sad.

(Purchase on Amazon)

2. ‘Before I Fall’

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This book is another combination of unique storytelling and an underlying theme of death. Written by Lauren Oliver, author of the Delirium series, the novel adheres to a Groundhog Day style of storyline. After the death of the narrator, Sam, she wakes up again, shocked not only to find herself alive, but in the previous morning. As time passes, she realizes that she is stuck in a loop, and the resulting decisions make for a thrill of a story. Each time her day is relived, she changes in successive subtle ways, until I could look back at a few days of story and find an incredible character arc.

That’s the true power of this novel: the characters. The way Sam reacts to each of them and the ways in which those reactions develop are incredibly powerful. As she finds out more and more about what people were thinking and doing on that day, she begins to get the full story, and uses that knowledge to her advantage. This frustrating cycle makes for a very complex internal struggle. How she wants to act changes, but the events of the day (and her death) don’t.

Though not an original plot device, Oliver utilizes it in the best of ways. The day stays the same, but the girl changes. Her experience with, and desire to avoid death pervade her thoughts in the novel, and it’s that fact, rather than the fact of the repetition, that lead her to act the way she does. It’s an infuriating loop, trying to change things when they will inevitably repeat. As the story went on, I kept wanting to chime in with my own ideas of how the story should go. By the time it got to the end, I too, had learned a thing or two.

(Purchase on Amazon)

3. John Green’s other books

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If you find yourself more attracted to John Green’s style than the themes of TFiOS, this will be a pretty obvious choice. If you can separate your associations from TFiOS, I suggest Looking for Alaska (Amazon). It’s somewhat similar in the depth of the questions it tackles, but the story itself is wildly different.

Paper Towns (Amazon) is less similar, and brings up insightful questions while challenging storytelling tropes and ideas about teenagers in a very self-aware way. He also wrote An Abundance of Katherines (Amazon), one of my favorites, and co-wrote Will Grayson, Will Grayson (Amazon). I can whole-heartedly recommend them all.

So there you have it, folks! Read away. By no means can you ever replicate that first TFiOS experience, but the power of all books still remains. Check them out while you wait to see the story on the big screen.

Here are the 2017 Oscars winners and losers

8:25 pm EST, February 26, 2017

The 2017 Oscars took place Sunday night in Hollywood and found La La Land cleaning up with six wins. Here are the Academy Award winners!

ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel hosted the 2017 Oscars, which took place at the Dolby Theater. The event featured live performances of all five Oscar-nominated songs.

2017 Oscar winners list

Read full article

The 2017 Oscars took place Sunday night in Hollywood and found La La Land cleaning up with six wins. Here are the Academy Award winners!

ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel hosted the 2017 Oscars, which took place at the Dolby Theater. The event featured live performances of all five Oscar-nominated songs.

2017 Oscar winners list

Related: We asked our parents to describe the 2017 Oscar nominees

Below is a complete list of Oscar winner and losers.

2017 Oscar winner list

Note: The final winner of the night was originally announced to be La La Land, but the announcement was actually an error — Moonlight won Best Picture. Awkward.

Best Picture:
Arrival
Fences
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land

Lion
Manchester By the Sea
Moonlight

Best Actress:
Isabelle Huppert – Elle
Ruth Negga – Loving
Natalie Portman – Jackie
Emma Stone – La La Land
Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins

Best Actor:
Casey Affleck – Manchester By the Sea
Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling – La La Land
Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington – Fences

Best Director:
Damien Chazelle – La La Land
Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester By the Sea
Denis Villeneuve – Arrival

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Arrival – Eric Heisserer
Fences – August Wilson
Hidden Figures – Allison Schroeder, Theodore Melfi
Lion – Luke Davies
Moonlight – Barry Jenkins

Best Original Screenplay:
20th Century Women – Mike Mills
Hell or High Water – Taylor Sheridan
La La Land – Damien Chazelle
The Lobster – Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou
Manchester By the Sea – Kenneth Lonergan

Best Original Song:
“Audition” – La La Land
“Can’t Stop the Feeling” – Trolls
“City of Stars” – La La Land
“The Empty Chair” – Jim: The James Foley Story
“How Far I’ll Go” – Moana

Best Score:
Jackie
La La Land
Lion
Moonlight
Passengers

Best Cinematography:
Bradford Young – Arrival
Linus Sandgren – La La Land
Grieg Fraser – Lion
James Laxton – Moonlight
Rodrigo Prieto – Silence

Best Live Action Short Film
Timecode
Sing
Silent Nights
Ennemis Interieurs
La Femme et le TGV

Best Documentary, Short Subject:
4.1 Miles
Extremis
Joe’s Violin
Watani: My Homeland
The White Helmets

Best Editing:
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Moonlight

Best Visual Effects:
Deepwater Horizon
Doctor Strange
The Jungle Book
Kubo and the Two Strings
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Best Production Design:
Arrival
Hail, Caesar!
La La Land
Passengers
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Best Animated Feature:
Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
My Life as a Zucchini
The Red Turtle
Zootopia

Best Animated Short:
Blind Vaysha
Borrowed Time
Pear Cider and Cigarettes
Pearl
Piper

Best Foreign Language Film:
Land of Mine, Denmark
The Salesman, Iran
A Man Called Ove, Sweden
Tanna, Australia
Toni Erdmann, Germany

Best Supporting Actress:
Viola Davis – Fences
Naomie Harris – Moonlight
Nicole Kidman – Lion
Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams – Manchester By the Sea

Best Sound Mixing:
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
13 Hours

Best Sound Editing:
Arrival
Deepwater Horizon
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Sully

Best Documentary Feature:
Fire at Sea
I Am Not Your Negro
Life Animated
O.J.: Made in America
13th

Best Costume Design:
Allied
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Florence Foster Jenkins
Jackie
La La Land

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Star Trek Beyond
Suicide Squad
A Man Called Ove

Best Supporting Actor:
Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea
Dev Patel – Lion
Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals

Tags: 2017 Oscars

Lightning McQueen’s biggest enemy is himself in the new Cars 3 trailer.

The second major preview premiered during the Daytona 500 on Sunday afternoon, where voice actor Owen Wilson served as grand marshal.

The new Cars 3 trailer finds Lightning pushing himself to compete with high tech cars that are engineered to win. The character suffers a serious accident during a race and finds himself back at square one, having to work himself back up to what he once was.

Read full article

Lightning McQueen’s biggest enemy is himself in the new Cars 3 trailer.

The second major preview premiered during the Daytona 500 on Sunday afternoon, where voice actor Owen Wilson served as grand marshal.

The new Cars 3 trailer finds Lightning pushing himself to compete with high tech cars that are engineered to win. The character suffers a serious accident during a race and finds himself back at square one, having to work himself back up to what he once was.

While Cars 3’s main setting is unclear, we do see Lightning at least briefly returning to Radiator Springs (Gotta keep Cars Land at Disneyland relevant)!. This appears to be the I-need-to-rediscover-myself-by-remembering-my-origins scene.

Cars 3 looks dramatic, emotional, and possibly targeting kids and adults? We’ll race into theaters for this installment when Pixar’s latest opens this summer.

A synopsis from Pixar reads: “Blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast racers, the legendary Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) is suddenly pushed out of the sport he loves. To get back in the game, he will need the help of an eager young race technician, Cruz Ramirez (voice of Cristela Alonzo), with her own plan to win, plus inspiration from the late Fabulous Hudson Hornet and a few unexpected turns. Proving that #95 isn’t through yet will test the heart of a champion on Piston Cup Racing’s biggest stage!”

Tags: cars 3

We asked our parents to describe the 2017 Oscar nominees

It's because we love them that we use them for our amusement.

10:30 am EST, February 26, 2017

When your friends and family don’t know about the films of the 2017 Oscars, you just have to take advantage of their ignorance and laugh.

The title of a movie (usually) makes obvious sense when you know what that movie is about. But titles can be so vague, and when you have no prior knowledge of the movie, the plot isn’t typically easy to decipher. How fun would it be then, to ask our friends and family to guess the plots of the nominees for the 2017 Oscars?

The task was simple for us. We gave our friends and family a movie title from the 2017 Oscars, and asked them to guess what the movie is about. It’s not, however, such a simple task for them. They weren’t allowed to look it up. No cheating allowed! As you can imagine, we got some interesting responses.

Read full article

When your friends and family don’t know about the films of the 2017 Oscars, you just have to take advantage of their ignorance and laugh.

The title of a movie (usually) makes obvious sense when you know what that movie is about. But titles can be so vague, and when you have no prior knowledge of the movie, the plot isn’t typically easy to decipher. How fun would it be then, to ask our friends and family to guess the plots of the nominees for the 2017 Oscars?

The task was simple for us. We gave our friends and family a movie title from the 2017 Oscars, and asked them to guess what the movie is about. It’s not, however, such a simple task for them. They weren’t allowed to look it up. No cheating allowed! As you can imagine, we got some interesting responses.

Be sure to check out the ridiculous responses we got for the 2016 Oscars too!

Time to let her rip tater chip.

‘Lion’

Our participants start out on a high note. Well, they at least know who’s in the movie.

‘Arrival’

Success continues with Arrival, as they have the vague idea it’s about space aliens (although it’s possible one of them is confused with Passengers).

‘Fences’

There was a common general premise our friends and family had of Fences.

‘Moonlight’

They did well with Moonlight…until they didn’t.

‘La La Land’

Maybe La La Land will be better! Everyone knows La La Land! Right…?

‘Hacksaw Ridge’

Oh no, we’re starting to lose them!

‘Hidden Figures’

No lie though, I’d watch that.

‘Captain Fantastic’

We’ve officially lost them.

‘Hell or High Water’

Could these plots be any more varied?

‘Nocturnal Animals’

It might have been a good idea for Nocturnal Animals to change its name.

‘Silence’

They’re really losing it now. They’ve had enough!

‘Manchester by the Sea’

Someone needs to turn these ideas into full screenplays, they are gold.

‘The Lobster’

What did they expect people would think when they named it The Lobster?

Thanks to Ariella, Brandi, Donya, Karen, Kendra, Kyle, Matthew, Pamela, Selina, and the friends and family they may or may not have annoyed all week.

Which 2017 Oscars movie do you think has the most misleading title?