2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog. Thank you all for making 2013 as great as it was and I can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store for all of us.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 20,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Where in the World Has Mikaela Been?

As some of you know, I have had not had a plethora of time to keep 1st on Trend updated like I do during the summer months. Well, that is due to being at college. I am currently finishing my first year at Susquehanna University and it has been incredible. So, I am uploading a video I made of me, my friends, the love of my young life, and my school. I could never thank everyone enough for including me and making me a member of their “family.”

Love you all and cannot wait until next semester!

All photos belong to me but the music (“Still Into You”) is property of Paramore, Fueled by Ramen, Atlantic Records and Warner Group Records. All rights reserved.

My Top Films of 2012

I know that this list is about a week late, but I had to cram in watching some films I had not had the opportunity to see earlier this year. There are 16 movies listed here, because I could not shorten my list to only 10 this year (unlike last year where I had to struggle to find 10) due to the plethora of good films that premiered this year. So, here is my list of the top films of 2012:

  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower 

This modern-day Breakfast Club is based on the novel of the same name, written by Stephen Chbosky (who also directed the film). This film stars Ezra Miller, Emma Watson, and Logan Lerman. Perks is an accurate portrayal of high school and the various relationships we make and the experiences we have as teenagers.

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  • Les Miserables

This film is the third adaptation of Victor Hugo’s 1, 463 page novel about the French revolts of 1848. It stars Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Samantha Barks, Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Coen, and Helena Botham Carter. This film, directed by Tom Hooper, features the music from the iconic Broadway show and had the actors singing live (which was good and bad at its moments).

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  • Safety Not Guaranteed

This film stars Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, and Karan Soni. This film is about a group of journalists who go to do research on a man whom claims to be a time traveler and seeks someone to come with him (I swear, this is not based on Doctor Who). 

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  • Skyfall

This film stars Daniel Craig, Judy Dench, Ben Whishaw, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, and Berenice Marlohe. This is the third Bond film to star Daniel Craig and continues the series with Sam Mendes directing. This film is about Bond searching for a former MI6 agent, whom wants to destroy M and the reveal all of MI6’s agents’ identities.

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  • Django Unchained

This film, written and directed by Quetin Tarantino, takes on American Civil War era slavery in a similar way in which Inglorious Bastards took on the Holocaust and World War II. The film stars Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, and Samuel L. Jackson. While this film is not as good as Bastards, Django still is humorous and has some of the best performances out of Waltz and DiCaprio in years.

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  • Excision

By far the weirdest film of 2012, Excision is about a medically-obsessed teenage girl who has bizarre fantasies, a difficult time associating with her peers, and wants parental affection by becoming a doctor (but she also has some psychopathic behavior). The film stars Annalynne McCord, Traci Lords, Ariel Winter, Roger Bart, Malcolm McDowell, Jeremy Sumpter, Matthew Gray Gubler, Ray Wise, and Marlee Matlin.

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  • Holy Motors

This film is also very strange, but in a different way than Excision. Holy Motors is about a French actor who is “reincarnated” with each new role he takes on. He loses more and more of himself as the film progresses and he takes on new roles. The film stars Denis Lavant, Edith Scob, Eva Mendes, Kylie Monogue, Elise Lhomeau, Michel Piccoli, and Jeanne Disson.

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  • Beasts of the Southern Wild

Perhaps one of the few films I have enjoyed in which a child is the main character of the movie (the only other one I can think of is last year’s film Hugo). This movie was completely carried by a seven-year-old girl, who is named Quvenzhane Wallis, and she pulled off a better performance than some adult actresses. This film also stars Dwight Henry and Levy Easterly.

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  • Brave

Let’s face it, I grew up in the Pixar generation. I remember being five or six and seeing Pixar films in theatres– so, I grew up watching these pieces of art when they first premiered on the big screen. So, that may make me a bit biased in regards to Pixar and their films. Nevertheless, I LOVED Brave and its wonderful heroine, Merida. This film was voiced by Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Kevin McKidd, and Craig Furguson. This film is visually stunning– and the most stunning part? Merida’s hair of course (seriously, just check it out if for nothing else).

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  • Silver Linings Playbook 

I knew I would like this film from the trailer alone– after all, not many films have Bradley Cooper running around in a trash bag and Jennifer Lawrence actually showing her real talent. The film also stars Robert De Niro, Jacki weaver, and Chris Tucker.

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  • Anna Karenina 

This is the thirteenth film adaptation of the Leo Tolstoy novel in which a politician’s wife commits adultery with a calvary officer. This film stars Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Matthew MacFadyen, Kelly Macdonald, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson (am I the only one surprised by the fact this guy was playing a nerd in Kick Ass about three years ago?). This film is expertly directed by Joe Wright, who has worked with Knightley twice before. It is visually stunning and brilliant to watch.

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  • Ruby Sparks

This film is the definition of “cute and quirky.” It is about a writer who creates “the perfect woman” in a story and one day she appears, but he can control her every movement and action. The film stars Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Antonio Banderas, Annette Bening, Steve Coogan, Elliott Gould, and Chris Messina.

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  • Moonrise Kingdom

Now, this is a Wes Anderson film, which automatically it will be “quirky.” This film is about two ten-year-olds whom begin a romantic relationship at summer camp and create drama in their town when they run away. This film stars Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, and Bob Balshan.

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  • Looper

I am not a fan of time-travel films or shows (Doctor Who is an exception), but I liked this one a lot. While the second-half of the movie does slow down dramatically, it is an excellent film and handled the subject maturely without feeling the need to explain how the time-traveling worked in minute details. The film focused on a man, whose job is to kill people sent back in time by the government– but when his future self is sent back, he is conflicted and must battle himself to complete the job. The film stars Jason Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis.

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  • The Amazing Spiderman

While many people argued that this film was unnecessary, and while I do not disagree with that statement completely, I enjoyed this film. I loved Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone’s performances in this film, however the Lizard (Rys Ifans) was underused and never fully developed. I saw this film in theatres about three times and loved the visual spectacle of it all. Say what you will, I am partial towards Spiderman and loved this rendition more than any other Spiderman film ever made.

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  • The Dark Knight Rises 

Okay, I HATED The Avengers (and I know I may be getting some upset emails/comments about that statement, and I hope you do comment if you disagree) and really liked The Dark Knight Rises. Yes, there are some events that happened in the film that made no sense to me (i.e. how did Bruce Wayne get back into Gotham without any supplies when the government couldn’t?) and could have been edited (Bane’s voice). But, it was honestly the performances by Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, and Jason Gordon-Levitt that impressed me and made me like this film enough to put it on the list. If it were not for the performances, I would have absolutely hated this film (but not as much as The Avengers). 

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What do you think of my list? And which films do you consider to be the best of 2012?

Best of 2012: Album

The second award for Trend’s “Best of…” awards is for album. The nominees were “Some Nights” by fun., “Picture Show” by Neon Trees, “Born to Die” by Lana del Rey, “Electra Heart” by Marina and the Diamonds, and “21” by Adele. The winner was based on each songs, whether me and my friends were able to repeat the songs without dread, songs requested at when hanging out, and the appeal of each song. Was it well written? Did the words fit with the tune? And did the album feel well coordinated and have a tone?

The winner is Marina and the Diamonds’ album “Electra Heart.” This is the second album put out by British pop singer Marina Diamondis and has gradually been gaining momentum abroad with such singles as “How to be a Heartbreaker,” “Power and Control,” “Primadonna,” and “Radioactive.”

I introduced my friends to this artist and the album earlier this year and several of them now listen to her and request for the music from this album specifically.

“Electra Heart” was released on April 27, 2012.

What do you think of “Electra Heart” and Marina and the Diamonds? What was your favorite album of 2012?

Movie Review: Les Miserables

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I have secretly been wanting to play Eponine in a production of Les Miserables for a few years now– and this has yet to happen, but I was extremely excited to go to my local theatre and see the movie-musical adaptation of this beloved story.

Les Miserables is the story of Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), who was imprisoned for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread for his sister and nephew, and his search for redemption and hopes of escaping his past. He is helped by a Bishop Myriel (Colm Wilkinson– theatre nerd fact: Wilkinson was the first actor to play Valjean in the London production in 1985), who provides him with the money to begin a new life,  and moves to Montreuil where he assumes the pseudonym Madeleine and creates a manufacturing business and becomes the mayor of the town. While Valjean is trying to desperately to recreate his life and redeem himself, the police officer Javert (Russell Crowe) is constantly chasing after him and hopes to re-imprison Valjean.

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Meanwhile, one of Valjean’s employees, Fantine (Anne Hathaway), is fired from her job for being in a fight that was not her fault, and is forced to being a prostitute in order to pay for her child Cosette’s (Amanda Seyfried) care at the Thenadrier’s (Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter) inn. (WARNING! SPOILERS!) When Fantine dies, her daughter Cosette is rescued by Valjean, who swore to Fantine that he would protect her daughter, and raised by him. The story then jumps to 1832, when Cosette is a young woman and she lives with Valjean in Paris as college students are protesting against the monarchy. It is one revolutionary, Marius (Eddie Redmayne) who is friends with Eponine (Samantha Barks; who was raised with Cosette and is the daughter of the Thenadriers) and falls for Cosette. The story then shows Valjean’s acceptance of Cosette growing up and his role in the small revolution.

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This film was absolutely stunning. I loved almost everything about it– the cinematography, the acting, and the music. Now, this movie is one you either love or hate– there is no in-between on this film, to be honest– because of the style. Not only does this film include all 49 songs in the musical, but added a new one (called “Suddenly”). Furthermore, the shots in this film are very “artsy” and focus on the actors’ faces a majority of the time. I loved that this film had some elements in the novel that are not always in the stage production. (WARNING! SPOILERS!) Such as when Fantine has her hair cut off and some of her teeth pulled; when Valjean and Cosette are on the run from Javert outside of the wall of Paris; and that Javert’s back is broken and that is what kills him when he commits suicide.

Another thing that is amazing about this film is that all of the songs were sung live, which is why the songs are not as glossy and perfect as movie-musicals typically are. By far, the best singers were Hathaway, Jackman, and Redmayne– I cried during “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” and am still listening to it.

Overall, it is a very unique film and I think everyone should see it at some point before the Academy Awards, where this film will sweep the ceremony.

Now, while I loved this film so much, there were some things I did not love. Such as the transitions between scenes are very abrupt and have little connecting them and the end did not have Eponine in it until the group number, unlike the play version. And finally, Russell Crowe is the “weak link” in this film– he does not have a horrible voice (he is no where near as painful as Bronson in Mama Mia!) but in group numbers his voice sticks out painfully and seems worse when compared to other actors, especially Jackman. After watching this film, I think Hathaway and Jackman will walk away with Oscars– and Redmayne needs to be nominated at a minimum.

Les Miserables was first a novel written by French political exile Victor Hugo, who also wrote The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and was published in 1862 (although Hugo began working on the novel in 1845). The unabridged copy of the novel, which I own and have read, is 1,463 pages long (see photo below of my copy). The novel is fantastically written and leaves an enormous impact on the reader in regards to the unique characters and details of France’s history after the Revolution, which is not as discussed in history classes and documentaries. If you really want to dedicate yourself to a novel for a few months that encompases both amazing characters and interesting history, then Les Miserables is for you.

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Les Miserables became a musical in 1980 in France and was then transformed in 1985 by Cameron Macintosh, who created the iconic version of this play. There was also a movie version in 1998, which starred Liam Nesson, but it focused on the novel alone and had a difficult time condensing it all into one film without removing characters or events. And there was a miniseries for television that was released in 2000, but once again focused strictly on Hugo’s novel and had difficult time condensing.

My Grade: 9.9/10

What do you think of Les Miserables? Have you seen the film, play, or read the book? And do you think it will win anything from the Academy?

The Best of 2012: Runway Presentation

1st on Trend is beginning its first “The Best of…” awards with Runway Presentation. This award is based on the collection, runway design, music, and overall coordination of it all. The top contenders were Burberry Prorsum Fall/Winter 2012, Louis Vuitton Spring/Summer 2012, Gucci Fall/Winter 2012, Victoria Beckham Fall/Winter 2012, Tom Ford Winter/Fall 2012, Dior Spring/Summer 2012, and Rodarte Spring/Summer 2012.

The winner of the award though is Dior Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2012. Dior’s collection, which was designed by Bill Gaytton, was breathtaking in its simplicity and couture elements at the same time. The models were not overworked and the designs themselves were executed expertly where they were the stars of the show. This collection was a breath of fresh air for Dior, after John Galliano was fired from the company after 15 years, because it was not over-the-top nor difficult to focus on with everything around it. Furthermore, Gaytton picked a perfect song (“Under Your Spell” by Desire) for the collection and kept the tone of it all.

I have re-watched this runway several times since its premiere back in February and still love it– the red ball gown at the very end is still my favorite dress of the entire year. I was very impressed with the collection and loved it from the beginning to the end– there is not one look in here that I did not like.

Congratulations Dior!

What do you think? Do you agree with my pick or do you think there was another runway that was better?

Studio 921 Salon & Day Spa

I have decided to slowly begin reviewing locations– such as spas, restaurants, stores, and more–  either around me or places I visit. The reviews will hopefully turn people on to some really fantastic stores and businesses that truly stand out and deserve recognition.

Studio 921 Salon and Day Spa— located at 921 E. Fort Ave in Baltimore, MD— has been named as one of the top salons in Baltimore for 4 years in a row and has also been featured in American Elle magazine as places to go for hair. I went to 921 for the first time yesterday after a hairdresser I had been going to for about two years dyed my hair black (I asked for a brown-red!) and chopped all of it off. Needless to say, I was a upset (I was up until three in the morning on Thanksgiving scrubbing Dawn soap into my hair trying to get the color out) and I was panicking. I honestly could not go back to college with that hair– it would have been horrible. So, my mother booked me an appointment at 921, which squeezed me in at the last minute.

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921 is located in an old factory that has been refurbished for businesses and offices in Locust Point, which is next to Federal Hill. The minute you walk into 921, you notice the clean space and juxtaposition of the old structure and modern furniture. It feels sleek, modern, and welcoming and instantly relaxed me as I walked in (with a large hat over my hair, of course).

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I was immediately taken back into the studio, where Beth, the technician, treated my hair. She was wonderful– not only did she get the color out in a way that did not ruin my hair, but she put in the color I asked for. She was very kind and did her job expertly. After she fixed my hair color, I was taken to Joe, who changed the kindergartener-like haircut into something Vidal Sassoon would marvel at. He expertly snipped at the layers and made it both grown-up and edgy, which is exactly what I wanted.

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921 offers many more services besides haircuts and hair dyes– they offer manicures, massages, waxes, and most spa treatments. I know a friend, who suffered a bad back injury while playing rugby, who went to 921 for a massage for her chronic back pain. She not only said that it felt nice and relieved her pain, but it also helped her straighten her posture and the effects lasted much longer than she expected.

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Overall, Studio 921 and Day Spa is a fantastic place to go to for any spa treatments or for your hair. The employees are extremely attentive and will not let you walk out unless you are 100% happy with your services. I truly loved my experience there and will be going back to Beth and Joe for all of my future hair appointments.

And the best part about it all? I walked out of there without the hat on my head.

What do you think? Have you been to Studio 921 and Day Spa? And are you interested in going there for services?

Phone: (410) 783-7727 

Service Hours:

Monday: 11 AM — 6 PM

Tuesday: 11 AM — 8 PM

Wednesday: 11 AM — 8 PM

Thursday: 11 AM — 8 PM

Friday: 10 AM — 6 PM

Saturday: 9 AM — 5 PM

Sunday: 10 AM — 5 PM 

http://www.studio921spa.com/