My Pick for Best Pic – 84th Annual Academy Awards

When it comes to deciding our favorite Picture or Film of the year (whether we look at it from a professional point of view or when we look at it from a personal point of view), don’t our choices seem so calculated? I mean, I appreciate the things that are great about films and what is supposed to matter: actors’ performances, the directing, the writing, the producing, the set design, the lighting, the special effects, the wardrobe, the makeup, the blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. And I’m not trying to discount those pieces of a film that do hold a great deal of importance, but whatever happened to truly appreciating a film that makes you really feel something special? A film that makes you laugh. I’m not talking about the typical humor we’ve all become so accustomed to. I’m talking about the laughter that comes from the innocent child that’s in all of us that we almost never get in touch with as an adult. The laughter that is so recognizable when it so rarely happens. The laughter that brings you such joy that along with that laughter, you feel tears at same time…tears of joy. A film with such a heavy message that rings true to all of us…how we so easily forget what is important. Characters that touched us so much as children – and in a sense shaped part of innocence, childhood and who we are today – go completely forgotten. That even the sweetest, kindest and funniest of adults need some serious reminding of why they’re so great. A film that reminds us what not only makes us special, why people around you are also special and seeing “special” in places and people you never thought possible. Not the belief, but the FACT that there is a fantastic Muppet in all of us. That’s right. It’s for these reasons that The Muppetsis My Pick for Best Pic.

I felt this movie was so important not just because I was a huge Muppet fan growing up, but because it forced me to reflect on my own life. Hey, if it’s not personal, then why are we even thinking about it or talking about it? This movie showed how we’ve all forgotten about the Muppets. Symbolism for forgetting how we may, as adults, forget things and people that once were so important and helped define who we are. So I took a look within…GUILTY!!! I loved this movie and it made me so happy watching it, but the tears I had…I am guilty of the exact message this movie was portraying. We’re so caught up in the everyday nonsense: “I have to fill up my car. What time is it? What’s the weather supposed to be like today? I hate that I have to go to work. I don’t feel like working out. I wonder if the super market will be crowded now. I have to beat rush hour. I don’t have time. What did she say? What did he say? That’s awesome. No, I mean literally. Is it happy hour yet? What time’s the game? I should do a wash. Did you call them back? Did you see what they were wearing? What was that text? I haven’t eaten all day. I’m starving. I’m so full. Tag me in that post. Turn the TV on.” I know I use these everyday phrases every single day, sometimes multiple times a day. What has happened? And what am I talking about? A better question, what am I talking about in my everyday talk and my everyday thoughts? Where is the substance? Where’s the real relevance? Do any of these hold any real value? I know what you may be thinking, “Danielle, calm down, it’s just small talk.” And you’d be absolutely right. But don’t the constant small things and small patterns turn into our big things, big patterns and the next thing we know we do not own our own talk or thoughts anymore? Like I’m on another acting job and working off a script? Except I’m not getting paid. 

Once upon a time, my days had meaning. I was super excited all the time to see friends, laugh, go on a bike ride, stick my head out the window, laugh, run through a sprinkler and not care about ruining what I’m wearing, laugh, making funny and strange noises, singing loud so everyone can hear, laugh, dancing in the streets, jump in a pile of leaves, laugh. When I was a kid and I knew it was time to go out to the Hamptons and go to the beach, I would run up to my room and I’d have a bag packed and would be waiting by the car within two or three minutes. Why is waking up so difficult now? When I was a kid, I was up, ready and smiling at 6 in the morning. Now when I hear that noise in the morning, I get angry and want to destroy my alarm clock. I’m always tired. I remember laughing and being giddy at sleepovers and being so excited to go to bed at 5 a.m.

I understand. We grow up and we slowly have more and more responsibilities. So we can’t help but be conscious of the clock, worry about deadlines and make sure we’re on time for commitments. Hello, without these realities, we would not be able to function as adults in society. So where is a happy medium? How do we achieve that happy medium? Or how do we go about working towards that happy medium? These were all concerns of mine after seeing The Muppets. Maybe the only answer is to take time out for both. Reflect on both. But just like how we can’t ignore the deadlines, isn’t it just as essential, if not more essential, that we don’t ignore the other? What if for one day, we matched a question with a question? For example, every time our “adult talk” or “adult thoughts” come into play, you consciously ask, “Hey…I wonder how my friend is doing today. Maybe they could use a good laugh today.” After all, aren’t those friends a huge part of why you are who you are, today? Aren’t they part of the reason that you have deadlines and responsibilities? I can honestly say that I did try this tactic after seeing The Muppets and I did feel a lot better. It helped me prioritize, brought me happiness, made me feel so lucky that I have the friends I have, enjoy happy moments and try not to take any big laughing moments I have for granted.

Seeing this movie made me realize that the people I hold so dear in my own life like René Garcia (Working Author), the members of Cheap Shots Comedy Sketch group (Gary Gunter, Farah Cabrera and Bill Harvanek), Kevin Gassman (host on KWSS), Travis Garner (my web designer – “Envision Your Website”), Thai Rivera (genius comic), John Driver (my mentor – Actor, Producer, Writer, Director), my Uncle Skip in the Hamptons (has brought me constant joy and laughter with my family), my best friends…all these people are more than friends that I hold dear…they’re my fellow Muppets. Without them and/or without appreciating them every single day, I’m denying who I am and what I like about myself…what I love about them. I find it a reminder that we’re all a team of great people that have the option to bring each other greatness every single day if we choose to allow that for ourselves. I have really enjoyed knowing them, knowing how special they are and how knowing them makes me feel special as well.

Saying I recommend seeing, renting or buying The Muppets isn’t nearly enough. Neither is making my case for why it’s My Pick for Best Pic. I just truly hope you enjoy the movie and you dig deep down and find your inner smile…your inner joy…your inner laughter…your inner innocence…your inner soul…your inner child…your inner Muppet.