Aquaman Review

I’m starting the new year with a review of Aquaman, my family’s 2018 Christmas movie. Even though I’m a “DC Girl For Life,” I still have the ability to be constuctively critical. In short, I loved this movie. In depth, there are a few things that bothered me:

  1. Some of the camera angles & shots took me out of the movie. The beach training scene between Arthur and Vulko involved back and forth shots of both characters straight on. It felt odd and a bit too melodramatic. In the Italy scene with Arthur & Mera, the atmosphere dramatically changed to a cheesy rom-com and felt out of place in an adventurous superhero movie.

2. Speaking of the rom-com scene, that brings us to the terrible soundtrack. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. I specifically dislike the songs from the Black Manta costume creation scene (“It’s No Good,” Depeche Mode), the Italy rom-com scene (“She’s A Mystery To Me,” Roy Orbison), and the infamous Pitbull cover of Toto’s “Africa.” I should clarify that those first two songs aren’t bad; they just felt out of place. The Pitbull song is the one I hate with a vengeance, with or without the movie. All that being said, the score is amazing, and I really like the end credits song “Everything I Need” by Skylar Grey which fits right in with the tone of the movie’s finale.

Let’s end with two MAJOR positives:

  1. I  teared up twice: once during the title sequence from pure, unadulterated joy & again when Arthur Curry is proclaimed king of Atlantis because FINALLY we have the Aquaman we deserve on the big screen.

2. My dad loved the movie! You definitely won’t understand why that is such a big deal so let me provide some clarity. He enjoys movies like Darkest Hour and The Post. Superhero blockbusters are usually a little too weird & rarely impress him as great films. I 100% expected him to either fall asleep or walk out of the theater unimpressed. Shock of all shocks, he stayed awake the whole time and loved both cast and plot. 😱

I can understand why length was an issue for some people. Right before the finale, it started to feel like the story was being stretched out . . . and then BAM! It ended with an E P I C fight; I teared up; and all was forgotten and forgiven. Lastly, I want to give the cast & crew a round of applause. Director James Wan brought Atlantis to life which is no small feat considering you can’t actually film an entire movie underwater. There wasn’t even one weak link in the cast; I was impressed with every single performance, and I can’t wait to see more.

This is a DC film I can stand behind, and I think my fellow fans should do the same. Moving forward, we need to focus on the positive & support the parts of our cinematic universe that we love. Things can only get better from here because the casts & crews are experimenting, learning, and growing. So what if DC is darker and/or weirder?! At least we’re daring to be different!

GO.  SEE.  AQUAMAN.  🌊

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wcj6SrX4zw

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Check out some awesome Aquaman art  ➡️  H  E  R  E  ⬅️

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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A Series of Unfortunate Events | Friday the 13th

• Don’t get excited because the worst show ever is now available on Netflix.  Don’t watch it because you will immediately regret the decision •

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I recently read A Series of Unfortunate Events for the first time since my childhood and was shocked at the effect it had on me.  The Baudelaires suffer one misfortune after another without respite.  I’m not talking about stubbed toes and stuffy noses but rather abuse, deception, hunger, and loss among other things.  The story was much more grim and depressing than I remembered.  More than once I had to resist reading before bed because I found my dreams turning into graphic nightmares.  I tell you this not to deter your interests from the show but rather to prove the point that books are powerful.  I am a twenty-three year old adult, and the content of a middle grade series still affected my mind and imagination.  I find the plot of Lemony Snicket’s tale to be both horrifying and brilliant.  It introduces kids to new vocabulary (I could go on and on about the intricate use of wordplay) and exposes them to bleak circumstances that are not at all far-fetched from reality.  It also teaches the importance of telling the truth no matter what.  Time after time the Baudelaires’ warnings about Count Olaf and his sidekicks are ignored by the adult characters, and one by one the doubters suffer the consequences.  Life doesn’t get any easier, but the siblings continue to tell the truth and hope that eventually someone will listen.  The books also deal with the difference between good and evil.  The Baudelaires are seemingly good, but they find themselves compromising on more than one occasion to fight against various enemies.  There is an inner struggle to decide whether or not they are any better than their main nemesis Count Olaf.  I don’t think there is a simple answer to such a question, but I will say that these thought-provoking subjects are what shape young readers into intelligent adults.

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I hope I haven’t scared you off!  The Baudelaire saga is sad but also quirky and funny.  I’m so excited to watch this new adaptation, and I hope you will give it a chance as well.  There are thirteen books in the series, and each book will play out over the span of two one-hour episodes, twenty-six episodes and fifty-two hours total.  The first installment contains eight episodes and covers the first four books: The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room, The Wide Window, & The Miserable Mill.  Personally, I didn’t hate the 2004 movie adaptation.  I loved the cast!  However, I have to agree with the main criticism that the story felt rushed; too many books were squeezed into one film.  The Netflix format will allow each book to play out at a much more natural pace.  Enough chit chat!!  Go watch the show!!

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– Lauren Michele <3

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2016 Wrap-Up | 2017 Reading Challenge

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I did it!  With 45 minutes to spare on New Year’s Eve, I completed both of my reading challenges for 2016.  Here is what I read for the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge:

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📚 Published This Year •

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco 

📚 Finish in a Day •

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum 

📚 Meaning to Read •

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn 

📚 Recommended by Bookseller or Librarian •

The Series of Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket 

📚 Should Have Read in School •

Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace 

📚 Chosen by Spouse, Partner, Sibling, Child, or BFF •

Harvest of Rubies by Tessa Afshar 

📚 Published Before You Were Born •

The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

 

📚 Banned at Some Point •

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll 

📚 Previously Abandoned •

Elixir trilogy by Hilary Duff 

📚 Own But Never Read •

An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson 

📚 Intimidates You •

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 

📚 Already Read at Least Once •

Sisters of the Quilt trilogy by Cindy Woodsmall 

• Total: 12 categories & 31 books

• Here are links to my blog updates & my Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge:

2016 Reading Challenge

– 2016 Reading Challenge Update #1

– 2016 Reading Challenge Update #2

Life Update | November 2016

– My 2016 GoodReads Reading Challenge

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I told myself I wouldn’t do it, but here I am.  I’ve decided to once again do the Modern Mrs. Darcy reading challenge.  Keep reading to find out my tentative list for the twelve categories.

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📚 A Book You Chose For the Cover – The Messenger of Athens by Anne Zouroudi

I found this gem in my local library’s teeny tiny used bookstore.  The bright yellow bird against a blue background hooked me, and the murder mystery synopsis reeled me in.  I’m trying my best not to build expectations, but I really hope this book is as good as I want it to be.

📚 A Book With a Reputation for Being Un-Put-Down-AbleSix of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews about this book.  Some people have said it’s one of their favorite books/duologies ever written.  Of course I’m going to start with the first book, but I am optimistic that I will be purchasing book two very soon.

📚 A Book Set Somewhere You’ve Never Been But Would Like to Visit – The Curse of the Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters

Fun fact: I am dying to visit Egypt!!  Egyptology is one of my favorite subjects to learn about.

📚 A Book You’ve Already ReadThe Rook by Steven James

The Patrick Bowers Files series is AMAZING.  To be fair, I’ve only read the first two books, but how could it possibly go downhill from there??  I would actually like to read a few of the books in this series in 2017, but I’m setting the bar low so I don’t get too stressed.  I want these reading challenges to remain fun!

📚 A Juicy Memoir –  In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox by Carol Burnett

DUH!  Who wouldn’t want to read behind-the-scenes stories about The Carol Burnett Show?!

📚 A Book About Books or Reading – Bookplate Special by Lorna Barrett

This book is part of one of my favorite cozy mystery series.  It has been on my shelf for a few years, and it’s about time I got around to reading it.  Fun Fact: The main character’s cat is named Miss Marple.  How cute is that?!

📚 A Book in a Genre You Usually Avoid – The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

I rarely read and enjoy contemporary books outside of the mystery genre, but I’m willing to give this book a chance since it revolves around books.

📚 A Book You Don’t Want to Admit You’re Dying to ReadHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

I’m not embarrassed about this book.  It’s just weird to admit that I’ve never read such a beloved series.  My aunt was kind enough to give me the first book for my birthday so I will definitely be reading it this year.

📚 A Book in the Backlist of a New Favorite Author – Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar

I received all of the books Tessa Afshar has published thus far as Christmas and Hanukkah gifts.  I don’t want to set myself up for failure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I finish all of them before January 1, 2018.

📚 A Book Recommended by Someone With Great TasteAs Sure as the Dawn by Francine Rivers

My friend Gabby recommended the Mark of the Lion series years ago, and I finally got around to reading books one and two in 2015.  The experience was so unbelievably mind blowing that I had to take a break.  There is no longer a good excuse so I need to pick up book three NOW.

📚 A Book You Were Excited to Borrow or Buy But Haven’t Read YetThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I am on pins and needles waiting to read this book.  I’m going to watch the movie with my brother first since that’s what I did with Gone Girl.  I realize that sounds like reader sacrilege, but I’m not your average bibliophile.  Watching the movie first or liking it better doesn’t bother me. ;)

📚 A Book About a Subject or Topic You Already LoveWicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

I haven’t actually seen the musical yet, but I am obsessed with the story and soundtrack.  I liked The Wizard of Oz growing up but fell out of love with it for a period of time.  Listening to the Wicked soundtrack every day has made me fall back in love with Oz, and I am ready to read the story that started it all.  I am on page 32 and loving it so far. 💚

• Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge 

• Goodreads Website 

• Modern Mrs. Darcy 2017 Reading Challenge 

• Modern Mrs. Darcy Blog

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– Lauren Michele <3

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My Favorite Disney Channel Original Movies

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Someday I will write about subjects other than Disney & nostalgia.  Today is not that day.  😂  In honor of Disney Channel’s original movie marathon this Memorial Day weekend, I am going to share my favorite DCOMs.

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• Stand-alone

Stuck in the Suburbs – 2004

Taran Killam is one of my favorite Saturday Night Live cast members.  When I realized he played Jordan Cahill, I freaked out.  Baby Jordan!

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• Series

Cheetah Girls – 2003

Cheetah Girls 2 – 2006

My friends and I listened to the soundtrack on repeat.  We would pretend to be The Cheetah Girls, touring and making music videos with my camera.  Since there were three of us, I was a Chanel/Dorinda hybrid. ;)

High School Musical – 2006

High School Musical 2 – 2007

The HSM movies are the only DCOMs I still own (besides Camp Rock).  That about sums it up.

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Stuck in the Suburbs is my favorite because it possesses the DCOM spirit.  The only reason it’s above The Cheetah Girls and High School Musical is because both of those series blew up and became something beyond just Disney Channel films.  They were revolutionary and to this day hold significance in DCOM history.  A random person on the street might know about T.C.G. or H.S.M. but most likely not S.I.T.S.  Hopefully that makes sense!

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• Others

Cadet Kelly – 2002

Lizzie McGuire and Kim Possible are two of my favorite Disney Channel shows.  A movie with Christy Carlson Romano (Kim) and Hilary Duff (Lizzie)??  Yes please!!

Camp Rock – 2008

I was obsessed with Mitchie’s wardrobe.  Also, the Jonas brothers.

Cow Belles – 2006

Fun fact: Aly & AJ songs still play on repeat on my Spotify account.  No shame!

Go Figure – 2005

Figure skating, hockey, & Everlife music.  Need I say more?!

Jump In – 2007

I’m pretty sure I asked my mom for a jump rope after this movie premiered.

Kim Possible: So The Drama – 2003

I already mentioned my love for KP.  No other words are necessary.

Now You See It – 2005

This movie is a hidden gem.  I found out about it after seeing Johnny Pacar on Flight 29 Down and doing further research about his career.  I’ve been hooked ever since.

Pixel Perfect – 2004

I totally forgot about this movie until I saw it on the Disney Channel TV schedule.  I flipped out!!  Hands down one of my favorite DCOMs.  I wish I could watch it more often.

Read it And Weep – 2006

It’s always special re-watching movies that I saw commercials for before they premiered.  I got the full experience!

The Even Stevens Movie – 2003

My brother and I loved this show growing up.  Of course I love the movie!

The Proud Family Movie – 2005

I wish Suga Mama was my relative.  I love her so much!  😂

Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior – 2006

I had the biggest crush on Shin Koyamada.  Also, girl power!

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All of the previously mentioned films fall below my favorites but are in no way on the bottom.  I could watch them over and over and never get bored.

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• Honorable Mentions

Avalon High – 2010

Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam – 2010

Get a Clue – 2002

Lemonade Mouth – 2011

Starstruck – 2010

The Cheetah Girls: One World – 2008

Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century – 1999

Zenon: The Zequel – 2001

Zenon: Z3 – 2004

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These are movies that I like but don’t love.  Some may surprise you, but keep in mind this is my personal opinion.  I also want to point out something.  I like the Zenon series, but I haven’t watched the movies many times therefore I don’t feel right putting them in the favorites category.

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If you’ve missed part of the marathon, have no fear!  There are many DCOMs available on Netflix.  Also, more will be airing throughout June in preparation for the premiere of Disney Channel’s 100th original movie Adventures in Babysitting.

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I suggest you tune into the Thingamavlogs livestream.  They are staying live through the entire marathon for a great cause: The Pablove Foundation.  Necessary links below:

• Livestream – http://www.dcommarathon.com

• Pablove Website – http://www.pablove.org

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Subscribe to my blog to receive email notifications, and check out my other links listed below.

– Lauren Michele <3

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The Wonderful World of Disney Presents:

Image Source: http://abc.go.com/shows/the-wonderful-world-of-disney-disneyland-60

I know I know I know!!  I talk about Disney A LOT.  However, I couldn’t help writing a post about the Disneyland 60 celebration that aired on ABC tonight.  Before I jump headfirst into all the amazing moments that took place, I want to mention two things that are not so good.  Go ahead and call me a prude, goodie two-shoes, etc.  I don’t care!  I personally think that the revealing costumes in the opening dance number were inappropriate; this was a special in honor of a family friendly theme park, and families at home and in the park were watching.  The second thing I want to mention isn’t bad, but it is somewhat of an elephant in the room and a detail that will most likely be mentioned by at least one person on the internet.  Most Disney fans wont mind watching two hours of Disney-related television and freaking out over the nostalgia and memories.  However, this two-hour special was more about Disney than Disneyland with the exception of a few interviews and fun facts throughout.  I don’t really care, but the truth is the special was a tad bit unnecessary if you consider that the subject was supposed to be Disneyland.  Moving on to the good stuff!

– Dance –

The “Part of Your World” dance number featuring Maddie Ziegler was short but beautiful.  The flowy costumes, monochromatic blue stage, and underwater background set a tranquil, dreamy mood.  Derek Hough lead a dance number set to “Step In Time.”  I couldn’t help but shed a few tears when Dick Van Dyke stepped onto the stage and danced at the end.

– Music –

The musical performances were amazing!  Here is a list of the songs performed in order:

• “Be Our Guest” – Pentatonix

• “When You Wish Upon a Star” – Jessie J

• “I Wan’na Be Like You” – Fall Out Boy

• “Circle of Life” – Elton John

• “Rainbow Connection” – Tori Kelly & Kermit the Frog

• “Let It Go” – Idina Menzel

• “Part of Your World” – Kelsea Ballerini

• “Friend Like Me” – Ne-Yo

• Star Wars Medley

Hore, Steven, and Sky Creative. Sky Movies, Star Wars. Web. 22 Feb. 2016. http://imgur.com/gallery/G7AaaFg.

Hore, Steven, and Sky Creative. Sky Movies, Star Wars. Web. 22 Feb. 2016. http://imgur.com/gallery/G7AaaFg.

• “Steve McQueen” – Little Big Town

• “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” – Gustavo Dudamel & The Los Angeles Philharmonic

• “Wonderful Crazy Night” – Elton John

– Non-Musical Highlights –

• Helen Mirren was one of the first presenters.  Her grace & eloquence was in fine form and the perfect way to open the show.  She’s not a Disney princess; she is an honorary Disney QUEEN!  👑

• During the “Modern Family” cast interview, hidden Mickeys were discussed.  Being the geek that I am, I began to hyperventilate when I realized that hidden Mickeys were placed within the interview setting.  They were eventually pointed out, making me feel super smart.  😉

• I must admit I got teary eyed during the Disney girls montage.  Hearing famous lines from the diverse group & interviews from female celebrities impacted by female Disney characters was touching.  💕

• It was really cool to see a sneak peek of Star Wars land & the Shanghai Disneyland Park.  Soon, Star Wars fanatics will be able to board the Millenium Falcon in California 🌠, and Disney princess enthusiasts will be able to see the largest Disney theme park castle in Shanghai 🏰.

• Last but certainly not least, my favorite part of the entire show which occurred early on.  While walking around Disneyland, Josh Gad visited Walt Disney’s apartment and mentioned a lovely fact: When working inside the park, Walt Disney would keep his lamp by the window lit to let employees know he was watching to make sure everything was running smoothly.  Now, in his honor, the lamp is lit at all times.  🌟

During financial troubles, Walt took a leap of faith and created a mouse.  His creation continues to have a worldwide impact.

“You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”

Now I desperately want to visit Disneyland.  I hope you enjoyed this post readers.  “See” you soon!  :)

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Seasonal Sneezings | Blogmas 2015

Is sneezings even a word?  Oh well!  It sounds clever. ;)  I stayed home from church today because I woke up feeling like I had been hit by a truck.  Dairy-free egg nog and “The Great British Bake Off” on Netflix has proved to be a successful remedy.  I really need to get better because I work tomorrow night.  Lovely!  Sadly, today was the last day of Hanukkah.  I am grateful for all of the gifts I received.  To commence the Festival of Lights, I will be watching “Maccabees: The Story of Hanukkah.”  Here is a clip of the short, animated movie:

Last night I started reading “The Pawn” by Steven James.  I have read it before, but I am starting over because the series is longer now so I want to refresh my memory of the first few books.  The Patrick Bowers Files is a great series; in a nutshell, the books are thrilling crime/mystery adventures.  The format is similar to that of “Criminal Minds” on TV because you read from many points of view including agent Patrick Bowers and the unknown serial killer.  I will definitely be reading a few chapters before bed tonight.  Smart decision!  If you are interested in this series, click the link: Books

Vlogmas – Lauren Michele

2 days until Artmas – Lauren Michele Photography – WordPress.com

12 days until Christmas…

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– Lauren Michele <3

Previous Post: Deck the Halls | Blogmas 2015

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Oscars 2015 Part II – Best Dressed

Here it is readers: Oscars 2015 Part II.  Tonight I will be discussing the top five dresses that caught my eye on the red carpet.  The following information and images are brought to you by the New York Times.  Let’s skip the chit-chat and get things started counting down from the #5.

Oscars 2015 Jennifer Lopez

Designer: Elie Saab.

Celebrity: Jennifer Lopez

The warm nude color is gorgeous against Miss Lopez’s skin.  Although I approve of the monochromatic details and minimal styling, this was not my #1 pick because I am not a fan of wide V necklines.  In my opinion, the neckline ruins an otherwise perfect Saab creation.

Oscars 2015 Anna Kendrick

Designer: Thakoon Panichgul

Celebrity: Anna Kendrick

This gown missed the top spot because of simplicity.  I find no fault in simplicity, but many of the red carpet looks this year were eye-catching because of the details.  However, Anna can do no wrong in my eyes.  The pink hue and jewelled collar, appropriately accentuated by soft neutral makeup, make her skin glow.  She did more than enough to make my top five.

Oscars 2015 Emma Stone

Designer: Elie Saab

Celebrity: Emma Stone

I am not a fan of the yellow-green color family therefore this dress is not my “Best Dressed” pick.  However, Miss Stone earned her #3 spot by miraculously pulling off this color and embodying the style and grace of “Old Hollywood.”  The styling– side curls, coral lips, and matching bracelets –was well done and assisted in making the color easier to accept.

Oscars 2015 Felicity Jones

Designer: Alexander McQueen

Celebrity: Felicity Jones

First of all, I am thrilled to see Felicity evolve from female lead in the British television film “Northanger Abbey” to Oscar-nominated actress in “The Theory of Everything.”  She was gorgeous then, and she is gorgeous now.  The color of the gown is surprisingly flattering.  It is light gray, and yet shine and a hint of periwinkle keep Miss Jones’ skin looking alive rather than washed out.  The detailing in the bodice is what edged out the competition for this #2 spot.  The color reminds me of space, and the bodice accents remind me of the ocean.  In a nutshell, this look is a chic ocean/outer-space hybrid.

Drum roll please!!  I am giving the “Best Dressed” title to…

Oscars 2015, Lupita Nyong'o

Designer: Francisco Costa, Calvin Klein Collection

Celebrity: Lupita Nyong’o

I stand and applaud Ms. Costa.  APPROXIMATELY SIX THOUSAND PEARLS!!!  I think we can all agree that not many people could wear this gown and pull it off effortlessly.  Mission accomplished Lupita!  The silhouette is elegant, and the pearls make Miss Nyong’o’s skin glow.

If you would like to see other red carpet looks, here is a link to the New York Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/cp/red-carpet-watch/oscars-2015/felicity-jones

I hope you have enjoyed my two-part recap of the 87th Academy Awards because I had a lot of fun writing it.  Perhaps I will do this again next year and add on more information such as a movie review and/or men’s fashion.  Until then, stay classy readers!

– Lauren Michele :)

Oscars 2015 Part I: https://laurenmichelelifestyle.wordpress.com/2015/02/24/oscars-2015-part-i-and-the-oscar-goes-to/

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