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The Best Films Of 2016, These Are Not Arguable

20 Dec

1. Edge of Seventeen



I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’ve never, ever seen a more accurate portrayal of what it’s like to be a teenage girl than Hailee Steinfeld in this movie. Ever, ever, ever.

She is self involved and full of self-pity. Everything is the biggest deal in the world. She is fairly awful and just trying to figure it out but how can she when everything is falling apart all the time? She is me as a teenager. She is me now, if I’m being honest.

I’ve claimed that I am forever 17, but I think the truth is that, yes, I am forever 17, but as I get older I get better at holding in some of the harsher edges of 17. My first instinct is still to respond like a brat, to pout and to eat a Slurpee on the side of the road, but now I maybe just eat the Slurpee and call my Erwin. Now I’m 17 with a little more perspective.

It’s better over here.

2. Hello, My Name Is Doris



I wrote about this movie before and it’s stuck with me ever since I saw it. And not just for the costumes, which are truly my dream aesthetic. I don’t want to dress like Sally Field when I’m 70, I want to dress like her now!! I’m trying every day!!

The film has stuck with me, though, for its portrayal of female friendships and how incredibly life-changing and life-forming and life-affirming they are. My female friendships are the thing in my life I am most proud of and rely on the most. They are my perspective and my balance and my plates of stuffing after I’ve humiliated myself yet again.

Sally, also, was something to celebrate. A complicated (read: human) woman full of the depths only a 70-year-old can bring to the screen.

It was beautiful. I loved every minute of it.

3. La La Land



Everyone is into this one so I don’t know what I’m really adding to this conversation.

This film is all that I adore about going to the movies. A believable love story between two very believable people. Ryan Gosling. Dancing in the streets of LA, music, and a hint of magical realism because all movies are just a bit of magical realism in the end, aren’t they?

It also has depth and conversations to start. Questions about life and relationships and choices.

If you want to have these conversations please contact me because I have a lot more to give in these conversations conversationally.

4. Sing Street



Speaking of musicals! While not technically a musical, this is one of my favorite music movies in a very long time. I love, love music movies. Perhaps the official term would be Movies Heavily Featuring Music And People Falling In Love To Said Music.

They fall right behind Two People Talk For 90 Minutes And Nothing Really Happens But They Are Forever Changed movies.

But Sing Street!

Ireland. The 80s. Teenage misfits.

I particularly love when teenagers are in a band. It almost feels like only teenagers should be allowed to be in bands because at that point everything is so incredibly sincere and full of emotion. No one can be in a band like a teenager can be in a band. There are costumes and music videos and intensity and the beginning of young love and!

Bono endorsed this movie, so get on it already.

5. Lemonade



The best memoir that’s come out…oh gosh. I don’t even know.

Up there in the best memoirs of all time.

A universal story in the specific. A woman in command of her narrative and her body and her life.

I’ve not stoped talking about it since.

Sometimes when I am overwhelmed with the darkness of the world I remind myself that yes, I live in the time of some really horrifying people, but I also live in the time of Beyonce.

That’s a gift I was given.

So were you.

Let’s Talk About Jared Leto’s Ombre Hair

22 Jan


Let’s play a little game.  Jared Leto or Jill Denning.  Ready, go!

Jared or Jill?



Jared or Jill?



Jared or meeee?




Ladies and ladies (do gentlemen read this blog?) it is with happy/heavy heart that I approach you with my happy/heavy feelings about my new celebrity doppleganger, Jared Leto.

Jared was an unknown doppelgänger until, of course, his new ombre hairstyle, and then he was an IN YOUR FACE doppelgänger.  I venture to say I’ve never seen a human being, in person or in picture to have such similar hair to my own.

My mother even confirms this.

I have a lot of feelings about this new development.

On the one hand, Jared is an attractive man.  Yay for being compared to attractive people!

On the other hand, Jared is also Jordan Catalano.  No for being compared to boys you are in love with!

I don’t know how far I should go here, but what does it mean if I’m in love with/attracted to Jordan/Jared/myself?

You’re right.  I shouldn’t have gone there.

We’ll end with one more.

Jared Leto or Jillian Denning?



It’s all very confusing.

Things I Felt In The Presence Of Meryl Streep

16 Jan



At peace


Instantly classier

Instantly less classy

In awe

At home



More accomplished

Less accomplished

Everything might be right in this crazy thing called life

Everything might be wrong in my life

Meryl should run for President

Meryl is already President

Maybe I should try out pantsuits again

Maybe not

My firstborn daughter will be Meryl

My second born daughter will be Meryl

All girls everywhere should be Meryl

Somewhere in my youth or childhood I must have done something good

Things I Felt In The Presence of JGL

16 Jan


About Time

19 Nov



Last night after class I decided I wanted to see About Time again so I called up Rob and before I knew it was in an abandoned mall thinking things like, “If someone comes near me I will swing my laptop bag at them.”

That’s the joy/curse of night classes.  When I decide I want to do something after class gets out, it feels really exciting like, “I’m seizing the day here, people!” and really scary like, “It’s 10:45PM and no one is at the movie theater.”

I saw About Time on opening day, because if Nora is gone, we have to live through Richard Curtis until Mindy Kaling decides to start writing rom coms.  I believe in Richard Curtis as a person and a writer and can we talk for a second about how he is married to Freud’s great-granddaughter?

I refuse to accept this as coincidence.

If I’m being honest, though, the real reason I wanted to see About Time again was because yesterday Hilary told me I was Mary in the movie.

Hilary said it was the frocks and the haircut and the way Mary has such a passion for Kate Moss, not just in an “I love Kate Moss way” but in a “Let’s talk in a real, deep way about Kate Moss because she has changed my life and the world completely.”  

I am very pleased to be a Mary and can only hope this means there is a Domhnall Gleeson in my future, because hello charming ginger Hugh Grant, where have you been all my life?

I’ve also had a hyper-crush on Toby Regbo lately, so I think the pattern here is just tall, skinny, charmingly awkward British men.  Women of the world, you feel me, right?

Probably not.

I tend to be the type of person out who says, “Don’t look now, but a crazy attractive guy just walked in” and everyone looks around like, “Where?” and then “Oh, Jill.  Ohhh Jill.  You can have him.”

Important stuff here.

After the movie, Rob and I were talking about time travel and our lives and what we would do if we could go back to our pasts.  I had never thought about it in the context of About Time before, but without hesitation I named the exact day that I would go back to in my life.  The day I would try to change history, over and over again, if necessary, until I got it right.

It might be the writer in me who wants to change endings that didn’t turn out how they should have, but there’s one story in my life that, if I had the ability to time travel, I would spend forever trying to fix.

I’m talking millions and millions of forevers.

There’s a part of me that says “Jill, there’s a reason it worked out how it did.  You can’t change that.”  But there’s another, bigger, romantic, part of me that says, “But yes, what if I could try again? What if I could fix these things about myself and the situation.  What if, what if, what if?”

I wonder how many times I would have to relive that particular storyline before I understood I couldn’t change the outcome.

I wonder if I would ever understand that.

I wonder if I will ever understand that.


23 Oct


Pepperdine photo via Caitlin Markham/DJ Kitty Cat

When Hilary was younger, she used to say her favorite day of the week was Monday simply because Mondays don’t get any love and she wanted them to feel important.

I think that sums up Hilary and her Pollyanna heart rather well.

When I was younger, my favorite Pollyanna character was Mrs. Snow and I would quote her as she yelled, “I’m pickin’ the lining for mah coffin!”

I think that sums up me and my crotchety old lady heart rather well.

I’m always, always more interested in the Mrs. Snows of stories, but that’s another post for another time that I promise I’ll get to one day when I’m not talking about WEDNESDAYS!

Because Wednesdays!

At this point in my life, it feels like I spend all day and all night on campus, all of the time, always. And as beautiful as Pepperdine is, and as excited as I am about its new tea station (honey in the house!) this is too much time for me/anyone to spend on this/any campus.

But then there are Wednesdays!

Wednesdays I exercise and clean. I read the book that’s been sitting, staring at me all week. I cook! I make Hilary’s beef stew and she has to field 10,000 questions like “Where do you find beef stew meat in the store?” and “Explain your salsa choice in depth”– the sorts of things only someone who never, ever cooks asks when they try to make a three-step recipe.

This is what Wednesdays are for. Wednesdays are for adding another three-step recipe to my repertoire and texting any one of my 12 to 15 very close friends about my success.

Okay, texting every one of my 12 to 15 very close friends about my success.

(I really wanted to throw that Girls “12-15 very close friends” quote into something, and now that I’ve done it–and twice!–I feel quite accomplished. That’s who I am and that’s what my wins are, in case you were wondering.)


Wednesdays I go on walks and take pictures. I paint my nails. I blog and I check on online orders that haven’t arrived. I run grownup errands, and catch up on sleep, and brainstorm articles, and sometimes, if I’m very, very lucky, I write for fun.

I curl up in my newly cleaned room with newly cleaned sheets and I write those stories I’ve been wanting to tell but haven’t had time to because of life, but now have the time to because of Wednesdays.

Goodness gracious, Wednesdays!

Me and my Mrs. Snow soul are very, very glad to have you in our week.

Movies That Reduce Me To Nothing

22 Oct

Screen Shot 2013-10-21 at 7.49.08 PM

The following movies I am not allowed to watch unless I’ve sought and obtained permission from two of my close friends and both are convinced my emotional state can handle the viewing:

1. Love Actually
2. Jerry Maguire
3. The Way We Were
4. Titanic
5. Celeste and Jesse Forever
6. Love Story

In other news, I watched Love Actually three times last weekend…

9 Hollywood Men With The Ultimate Sexy Voices

10 Oct



I’m a voice girl. If a guy has an outstanding voice I will often overlook his other not-so-outstanding characteristics and decide we can probably make this thing work as long as there’s a lot of talking involved. Now, repeat what you just said!

This love of voices has naturally bled into my obsession with television and movies. When a leading man’s raspy growl or smooth baritone hits me in the heart, I’m forever devoted.

Here are nine Hollywood men whose voices make me (at least a little) weak at the knees.

AND…now it’s your turn.

Who are your Hollywood voice obsessions?


The Definitive Guide to Amy Adams

14 Jun



This weekend Man of Steel opens and the world will line up to see if this Clark Kent adaptation will be more compelling than 2006’s forgettable Superman Returns. My best guess is yes, based on one fact and one fact only — Amy Adams as Lois Lane.

Amy Adams is one of those actresses I have on my mental, “Just Biding Her Time Until She Actually Wins An Oscar” list along with Michelle Williams, Jessica Chastain, and Jennifer Aniston in a world where she is given the roles she deserves. Amy is a woman who can pull of a real-life Disney Princess as convincingly as she pulls off a feisty, punching bartender. She has flawless hair, is ever humble, and attacks every role she plays with complete sincerity and focus and now I’m gushing now so I’ll stop.

For more on Amy Adams’s life before Man of Steel, read the rest of my article for Portable here.

SPOILER: I talk about Justin Timberlake’s hypothermic body.

Also, my editor at Portable wrote this article on supporting women in film this weekend and I think it’s just wonderful.

The Great Gatsby

9 May

I’m seeing The Great Gatsby this weekend along with everyone else in the world.

People have been warning me for some time now.  “The reviews are mixed.”  “It could go either way.” “I guess you’ll have to see.”

It could go either way? I GUESS I’LL HAVE TO SEE? No, no.  I don’t have to see.  What are you talking about?  Do you know me at all?

If you want to get into this, let’s get into this.

Here are 7 reasons why I will love The Great Gatsby (almost) no matter what:

1. I am one of 10 people in the world who saw Australia and truly, deeply loved it.

2. When I watch Moulin Rouge I don’t think “over-the-top” I think, “What a tastefully-understated gem of a movie. Baz could have even amped it up a notch.”

3. I refuse to entertain the idea that Jay-Z is overrated.  Heatrbreaker.  Mariah Carey.  End of discussion.

4. Carey Mulligan’s haircut!  Every day I regret not including it in this article.


5. Florence.  Lana.  Jack.   If this soundtrack doesn’t win a Grammy, expect to see me protesting outside The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.  Wherever that is.

6. “I wish I had done everything on earth with you.”

7. Leo.  The only man on earth who can pull off a swan picture.


If you dislike perfect pixie haircuts and over-the-top directing and Leonardo Dicaprio (gasp!) well…