Best Picture Nominees: My Thoughts

oscars-2014It has taken me a little time to reflect on the movies nominated for awards at tonight’s OscarsIMAG0375. It’s a lot to see the Best Picture nominees back-to-back. (You should try it though…next year with me!) But, as I think about them as a group, I realize that a common thread binds them. From a lowly lobby boy who goes on amazing colorful adventures to a physicist whose mind far surpasses the limits of his body, these movies deal with Greatness — what it means, how to achieve it, and how to sustain it. What mark does one leave on the world during his time here? And interestingly enough, the quest to be great goes hand in hand with the quest for Love.

I cried the most at THE IMITATION GAME.  At the end,when I found out what happened to Alan Turing and imagined his life, full of secret achievement yet lacking true love, I was a mess. And I identified with so many characters in all of the movies: the actor trying to be more than he’s known to be, the drum student rehearsing until he bleeds because he wants to be greater than the average people sitting at his dinner table, the leader needing to speak out but also watch over his followers. I’ve been there. I AM there. But as I, or each of us, takes our life journey, and tries to leave a different mark on the world, it’s so important to recognize that love, too, has an impact. Like the war hero who finds peace in helping others or the dad who trades his prized car in for a minivan so his family will be safe, I have come to realize.that loving and being loved is what makes “being great” the same as “being complete.”

I think that is why I must name BOYHOOD my Best Picture of 2014. This movie took the concept of love — not love as grand gestures, but the everyday, over the years, little acts of love that make up a boy’s young life — and by stringing them together, came up with something great. Amazing performances and creative feats of direction, authorship and production occured in all the movies nominated, and many more, and those artists should also get their due. But for me, the movie that took all the elements and transcended the medium was BOYHOOD, an ambitious undertaking that didn’t do much, but did a lot at the same time.

And as for me, I am still looking to do something great. I haven’t shortened a war – either through marksmanship or my brilliant code-breaking mind — yet. I haven’t become a legendary musician or an actor who is so successful that I need to change it up — yet. I haven’t led a movement or changed the way people look at the universe — yet. I haven’t raised a kid — yet. I have gone on some wild adventures, but not so Grand as to be filmworthy — yet. But I have loved, and I know that I am loved — and, as I saw in these Best Picture nominees, that’s the hard part. And I’ll continue to do so (and I hope you will to), as I keep working towards greatness, which is never too late to achieve…In the words of Stephen Hawking, “Where there’s life, there is hope.”

And the winner is……..



As I approached my 40th birthday this year,  I started realizing that certain themes have been repeated in my life.  So, I started jotting them down, and made this list.  As I started releasing them to the world a few at a time, people seemed to respond well to the list, and even sharing it, so hopefully I’ve done some good for someone – either because they identified with something, because they were able to have a chuckle about something that reminded them of themselves or a friend, or because they just needed to be reminded of something they most likely already knew. (All of these things happened to me).  I thought I’d do a short summary list here.  You can look for the individual entry on my blog for an expanded explanation of each entry.  And feel free to share this with anyone who might enjoy it.

Thanks for indulging me.   I’ll see you with more entries on another birthday.  You are all BUPErstars to me!

And, as always, Make Good Choices!


#40  Hot people get away with a lot.

#39  Make your health a priority.

#38  When it comes to the human body, there are no absolute, universal truths, so no diet or drug or exercise regimen is the best for everyone.

#37  “I miss you” on your Facebook wall doesn’t really mean that.

#36  Not everybody needs to know everything.

#35  The holidays should be about more than stress over shopping.

#34  A small show of support for a friend means so much to them and requires pretty little of you..

#33  My Mom was right more often than I give her credit for.

#32  Self-awareness is such an underrated trait, and one that is not seen nearly enough.

#31  A victim mentality self-perpetuates.

#30  You can dislike something while fully realizing its value and its importance to others.

#29  Call someone instead of sending a ridiculous number of texts.

#28  Nobody should feel scared about going to the gym.

#27  People who are doing well rarely talk about their own accomplishments

#26  Always bring a cell phone charger and/or spare battery with you.

#25  A simple apology goes a long way.

#24  It is REALLY difficult to be the messiest person at the club.

#23  Everyone should see Tina Turner in concert at least once.

#22  You can do almost anything as long as there’s an end date.

#21  Back up things – not just computer files – regularly.

#20  See your parents as real people once you’ve grown (and thank them!)

#19  Don’t base every decision on money.

#18  Spend time alone.

#17  Stereotypes exist.  It isn’t right or fair, but know this information and use it.

#16  Deee-Lite’s 1990 hit “Groove Is In the Heart” will pick up most any party.

#15  Everyone is attractive to some people, and not to others.

#14  Some people have a lot of free time on their hands.  Utilize these people when you can, ignore them when you need to.

#13  People think really highly of those who make them laugh or just make them happy.

#12  If you mess up, fess up.  Own up to your actions.

#11  Take the time to listen to people’s stories.  We all have something interesting to tell.

#10  Cut crazy out of your life quickly.

#9  Don’t judge other people’s bad habits.

#8  Everyone takes their own route to get to where they are supposed to be, with no preset timeline.

#7  Go with your gut.

#6  You never know who’s watching, and who you could be inspiring or influencing.  Act accordingly.

#5  Don’t be too proud to be wrong, or at least agree to disagree.

#4  Say (an informed) “Yes!” a lot.

#3  Other people’s opinions of you are not your responsibility, especially people who you don’t really care about or even know.

#2  Value yourself.

#1  Surround yourself with people who are FOR YOU.





And here, at long last, is the most important lesson I’ve learned over my 40 years of life.  It’s a lesson that gets reinforced constantly…

#1  Surround yourself with people who are FOR YOU.   So many people are jealous of others’ success or happiness.   Then there are those who pretend to be good friends, when it benefits them, but, when push comes to shove, aren’t there when they are needed.  And many people treat those who are nicest to them very badly, abusing their kindness and preying on their giving nature.   But, once you sort through all those folks, there are people who always will support you, who will do whatever they can to make sure you do well and who are genuinely excited for your success.  Hold these people close to you, and let them know how important they are by being one of those people for them.   With this support, all of you will achieve so much more than any one of you could on your own.

I am literally surrounded by people who are for me. I am so fortunate and so grateful.



Toby Blackwell#2  Value yourself.  Know what you offer and what that is worth, without being cocky or conceited and without selling yourself short trying to be humble.  This goes for everything from creating an online dating profile to asking for a raise.   How you view yourself is going to be the benchmark others use when evaluating you and your relationship to them.  Why should someone else be expected to think of you as more than you think of yourself?  And keep working to increase your value to yourself, by learning new things and improving upon what you’ve already got going, and watch as  your value to the world grows exponentially.



It was a risk wearing this for the outdoor party on the gay cruise. But, it cracked me up, so I wanted to. And it was a hit!

#3  Other people’s opinions of you are not your responsibility.  All you can do is present yourself in the best light by the way you live your life. Consider the source of any criticism or disapproval:  Is it really someone who’s opinion matters to you?  My friend, Kennedy,  used to sum it up so well: “Is my paycheck the same?  Yes?  Well, okay then…”  Not everyone whose opinion you value needs to be  someone who you work or audition for, but you can’t expend all your energy trying to please everyone you encounter, either.