NEW YORK — The American Film Institute on Wednesday named its top 10 movies of the year, including Todd Phillips’ comic-book sensation “Joker,” Taika Waititi’s World War II romp “Jojo Rabbit” and Lulu Wang’s family drama “The Farewell.”
The AFI’s other top movies of the year are: the Sam Mendes World War I thriller “1917,” Martin Scorsese’s crime epic “The Irishman,” Rian Johnson’s star-studded whodunit “Knives Out,” Greta Gerwig’s Louisa May Alcott adaptation “Little Women,” Noah Baumbach’s divorce drama “Marriage Story,” Quentin Tarantino’s Los Angeles fable “Once Upon a Time … In Hollywood” and Clint Eastwood’s Atlanta Olympics bombing docudrama “Richard Jewell.”
The AFI, which only cites American films, added a special award for the Korean thriller “Parasite.”
The AFI Awards, now in its 20th year, will be celebrated at a luncheon Jan. 3 in Los Angeles.
The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON — Douglas Levinson recalls watching his father pack for an overseas trip. He knew the trip was to the Middle East and, at age 13, knew vaguely that this represented instability and danger.
“I was worried something would happen to him,” Levinson told a Washington courtroom on Wednesday. “And it did.”
Robert Levinson never returned from that trip, and his family members are now testifying in court about the devastating impact of his disappearance.
Levinson, a former FBI agent, disappeared on March 9, 2007, when he was scheduled to meet a source on the Iranian island of Kish. For years, U.S. officials would only say that Levinson was working independently on a private investigation. But a December 2013 Associated Press investigation revealed that Levinson had in fact been sent on a mission by CIA analysts who had no authority to run such an operation.
Levinson’s family received a $2.5 million annuity from the CIA in order to stop a lawsuit revealing details of his work, while the agency forced out three veteran analysts and disciplined seven others.
Now his family members — three generations, including grandchildren ranging from teenagers to infants — are gathered in a Washington courtroom as part of a lawsuit seeking to hold Iran responsible for Levinson’s capture.
All seven of Levinson’s children are expected to testify. Their suit seeks damages from the Iranian government, but it is also part of a campaign by the family to press the Islamic Republic for answers about Levinson’s disappearance.
“This is a tragedy without end,” Levinson family attorney David McGee told Judge Timothy Kelly. McGee said numerous cases of Westerners detained in Iran have been resolved over the years, but Robert Levinson has been “thrown into a prison and disappeared from the world.”
Levinson’s family members believe he remains detained by Iranian authorities on espionage charges. Iranian state-owned Press TV reported in April 2007 that Levinson was in the hands of Iranian security forces, but since then multiple Iranian officials have insisted they know nothing of his whereabouts.
In the years since Levinson’s disappearance, his family has received only scattered signals that he was alive. They were sent three emails from his captors, who didn’t identify themselves and demanded millions of dollars and the release of several prisoners in exchange for Levinson’s release.
The most recent message, in April 2011, is the most disturbing; Levinson looks disheveled with long white hair and a shaggy beard, and he is dressed in an orange jumpsuit like those worn by U.S. prisoners in Guantanamo Bay.
“He looks hopeless,” Douglas Levinson, now living in Washington and working on the staff of a U.S. senator, told the court. “He looks defeated.”
The youngest of the seven children, Douglas Levinson said the experience of his father’s disappearance affected him deeply and he suffers from “terrible panic attacks, terrible anxiety attacks that continue to affect me until today.”
The family experienced a recent surge of hope in November when the Iranian government unexpectedly responded to a United Nations query by saying that Levinson was the subject of an “open case” in Iranian Revolutionary Court. Relatives took that as the first real acknowledgement that Robert Levinson was in custody and being moved through the Iranian justice system. But Tehran later clarified that the “open case” in question was merely a missing persons investigation into Levinson’s disappearance.
Ashraf Khalil, The Associated Press
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Not everyone’s going to get along 24/7, sleeping arrangements can get complicated, and by the end of it all, you’re likely left socially, and probably emotionally, exhausted.
This type of scenario is not uncommon. That’s because inviting people into your home means they’ll be in your personal space, says Amy Syed, a conscious living and wellness expert.
“Your home is your sanctuary and when you bring people into [it], you have to share your personal space and your environment with them,” the Toronto-based expert told HuffPost Canada. As a result, your guests (whether they’re family or not) can get on your nerves.
We love little tips, how about you? Story continues below slideshow.
But close quarters isn’t the only reason spending extended time with family can be tough. For some people, returning home for the holidays can be triggering.
“Sometimes it transports us back into childhood,” Christina Walton, a marriage and family therapist from Hamilton, told HuffPost Canada.
“Even if you’re 55 years old and you’re a high-functioning adult professional, [family] roles get resumed sometimes when you step back in with those relationships that you grew up with.
“It’s not that they’re always sinister, it’s just that those roles are hard to change. [This] can trigger old fights [or] old pieces of ourselves that we thought we grew out of when we went out into the professional world.”
So how can you keep your sanity when staying in a house full of relatives? Here are some practical ways to cope this holiday season.
Take time out for yourself
Even though the holidays put an emphasis on family, sometimes being surrounded by relatives all the time can get overwhelming, not to mention exhausting. That’s why both Syed and Walton recommend making time to do activities alone. Not only is this good for your mental health, but it’s also a simple way to take care of yourself.
For Syed, meditating is the mindful activity that works best for her. Although the wellness expert doesn’t host family over the holidays, she said she often hosts reunions where there could be a total of 15 or 16 kids in the house.
WATCH: Yoga moves to combat holiday stress. Story continues below.
“I’ll meditate and when I feel more stressed, I meditate even more,” she said. “The other thing I do often is [go into my] bathroom in my master bedroom and literally lock the door to escape everybody. It’s good. It’s like 10, 15 minutes, you take a break and then you go back to the pandemonium that’s around you.”
If meditating isn’t for you, other activities you can do include taking a walk outside, going for a drive, or reading a book. Just choose any activity that will bring you some inner peace for a few quiet moments.
Not everyone will understand your need for alone time, especially if you are hosting. The best way to manage this is to just be honest with them. “Being honest is huge so that there are no hurt feelings and there’s no misconstruing what’s really going on,” Syed said.
For example, some relatives might assume you’re avoiding them if you constantly take breaks from family time. But if you verbalize how you’re feeling, you’re setting expectations early.
For those who aren’t comfortable telling family that they need time to themselves, Syed recommends “picking the lowest denominator.” By this, she means choosing someone who is the least overwhelming to you and leaving the house with them.
“I’ve got some young kids in my family and so sometimes when I just want a break from the adults, I’ll actually fill the car with the kids and take off somewhere,” Syed said. “That’s an exit strategy that you can take when there are a lot of adults in the house.”
Don’t put pressure on yourself to be the perfect host
If you’re responsible for hosting your relatives, that can bring on a whole new level of stress compared to when you’re just a guest.
“As a host, you have so much to juggle — making sure everyone is comfortable, has enough to eat, has enough to drink, and that they have a great time,” Toronto-based entrepreneur Erin Bury told HuffPost Canada.
Bury and her husband have two sets of divorced parents, and this is the first year the couple will be hosting them all in their Prince Edward County, Ont. home.
“As someone who doesn’t cook, it’s overwhelming to take on hosting duties, but of course, it’s also nice to be in your own home,” the Willful CEO said. To cope with the stress of hosting, whether it’s for the holidays or not, Bury said she makes lists to stay organized and reminds herself that she’s splitting duties with her husband.
“I also always make sure I have some alone time to go to a workout class, read a magazine, or get in a good Netflix binge,” Bury added. “Even better? If my guests also want to binge the same show as me.”
According to Walton, just because you’re hosting doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself. “Let others help in the food prep. Divide the chores,” she said.
But also, “take time for yourself. Schedule that time in and let the guests know that they can help themselves,” she added.
Stay calm when conflict arises
Conflict is inevitable when you put any group of people together in the same home for a prolonged period of time. Whether someone brings up an old argument, or starts talking about a sensitive subject, the best way to deal with these scenarios is to be clear about boundaries.
“Don’t get baited,” Walton said. Instead, “Say, ‘We’re not going to talk about this because we’re going to end up in a fight.’ Set the boundary and stick to it.”
Another great option is to use distraction, both Walton and Syed suggested. If someone brings up something you don’t want to talk about, change the subject. After you change the subject a few times, they should get the message, Syed said.
However, if things escalate and it turns into a conflict, remember to keep your cool. “Calmly tell the person to stop and respect your space, your home, your [partner], your children,” Syed advised. “If someone’s going to come in and cause conflict, you have to reiterate what [your] boundaries are.”
If that doesn’t work, make sure to take regular breaks from family members. Limit your exposure by making sure you have other plans or activities scheduled outside the home, Walton said. But also “keep your expectations in check that [spending time in a house full of relatives] is not going to be perfect and that’s OK.”
There’s no shame in staying at a hotel
Those who are out of town might feel pressured to stay with relatives for the holidays. However, that’s not always a good idea if you’re already stressed just thinking about it.
The reason some people have trouble dealing with family members can vary. There could be relationship issues or historical problems with certain relatives, said Syed. If that’s the case, putting yourself back into a stressful environment like that is “not conducive.”
“I’m a huge believer in staying at a hotel and just visiting on your own time,” said Syed. “Just don’t go [back] into that environment altogether. You can go for dinner, for events, even during the day, but go back to your hotel room when you’re ready and have a place away.”
Walton added that you’re not obligated to host your family either. If it’s going to be too overwhelming for you, it’s OK to say no.
“Look for options, look for other relatives that they can stay with,” the therapist advised. “We all have limits and it’s OK to acknowledge those limits.”
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