Movies

2016 Oscar Nominations: Best Actor & Best Supporting Actor

oscar statueWe are only two weeks away from the Academy Awards live telecast, which means it is time to take a closer look at the ten men nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor. Although there appears to be a clear front runner in each category, there could be surprises in store. I have not yet had a chance to see all of the nominated movies, but I still have my favorites. Who would you like to see win in each category?

This year, only three of the ten nominated actors (Matt Damon, Eddie Redmayne and Christian Bale) have previously won an Academy Award, and only two of those (Redmayne and Bale) in acting categories. This is also the first Oscar nomination for three of the actors (Bryan Cranston, Tom Hardy and Mark Rylance). Interestingly enough, all but two of the ten actors (Damon and Stallone) are nominated for portraying real people.

Most of the nominated films are still in theaters so not yet available in HCPL’s catalog, but make sure to check out previous works by the actors!

Best Actor:

Bryan Cranston (Trumbo): Although this is Cranston’s first Academy Award nomination, he is no stranger to the awards circuit with multiple wins and nominations for his television work (most notably for Breaking Bad), and a Tony win for Best Actor in a Play. In the biographical movie Trumbo, Cranston plays Dalton Trumbo, a famous screenwriter and one of the Hollywood 10, a group of 10 screenwriters who refused to testify in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Matt Damon (The Martian): In The Martian, based on the book of the same title by Andy Weir, Damon plays Mark Watney, an astronaut presumed dead and stranded alone on Mars. A talented actor, Damon’s career spans genres with roles in critically-acclaimed movies (Saving Private Ryan, The Departed, Syriana) and box office hits (The Bourne Trilogy, Ocean’s 11). This is Damon’s third acting nomination at the Academy Awards, with previous nominations for actor in Good Will Hunting and supporting actor in Invictus. He previously won an Oscar, shared with Ben Affleck, for original screenplay for the movie Good Will Hunting.

New Orleans

Next Tuesday is a day that means “Party!” to many people.

Mardi Gras!

And when it comes to Mardi Gras, most of us think of two place: Rio de Janeiro or New Orleans.  Of course, New Orleans is much closer and therefore more likely for a destination celebration.

While the city has been a center of commerce and tourism, it has also been a place of art, literature, and – perhaps most known -- music.  Artists over the decades have found homes there.  Numerous movies have been set or filmed there.  Writers have been inspired by the area and its history, as well as the legends of intrigue -- and maybe even magic.

Love & Laughs

heartIt may seem hard to believe, but Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Or maybe it doesn’t seem hard to believe. After all, most stores did transition directly from Christmas decorations to Valentine’s Day treats. I know I’ve been seeing pink and red hearts for weeks. Regardless, Valentine’s Day is fast approaching with heart-shaped cookies and candies, glittery cards, and romantic movies in tow.

I do enjoy a sweeping romantic film on occasion, but I am much fonder of romantic comedies. I love how different they can be, while still following a familiar formula. They show movie viewers that love can be fun even when it’s a little bit (or a lot) crazy. That miscommunication happens to the best of us, but that we can apologize and move forward. That we all have different expectations for romance and relationships, and that compromise is key. Above all, the show us that life and love aren’t perfect, and that’s okay.

Below, I have put together a list of some popular romantic comedy titles. The earliest movie on the list is It Happened One Night, which premiered in 1934 starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. The latest movie, Trainwreck starring Amy Schumer and Bill Hader, opened in theaters just last year. Did your favorite romantic comedy make the list? Share your favorite in the comments!

Alan Rickman (1946-2016)

There have been obituaries that were somewhat difficult to write.

This one is particularly rough.

Alan Rickman first came to my attention – in fact, to the attention of most people -- back in 1988 when he portrayed Hans Gruber, the villain of the movie Die Hard.  Like so many others, I became of fan.

In Memoriam 2015

This past year, we lost so many talented people.  I wanted to acknowledge some I did not cover in individual blog entries during the year.  Though most are listed simply by name and work, I want to draw attention to some particular favorites of mine.
 

A Comparative Look at the 2016 Movie Awards Season

academy awardThis morning, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominations for the 88th Academy Awards. Honoring achievements in film, the Oscars are the culmination of the film awards season, following on the heels of the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA Awards), the Critics Choice Awards, and the various guild awards (Screen Actors Guild, Producers Guild, and Directors Guild).

One of my favorite things about movie awards seasons, is trying to predict who will win the Academy Award in each category. Because the Academy Awards are the last of the major movie awards telecasts, predictions are often made based on the winners at the other shows. The winners don’t always match up (sometimes the nominees don’t even match up!), but there generally seem to be frontrunners in most categories. This year, the category with the most stability in nominees across the board is that of lead actor. By contrast, the lead actress nominees have skewed wildly from one award to another. It will be interesting to see how the wins line up over the few weeks leading up to the Academy Awards.

For a look at the entire list of nominations for each award show, visit the Academy Award website, the BAFTA Awards website, the Critics' Choice Awards website, the Producers Guild Awards website, the Directors Guild Awards website, and the Screen Actors Guild Awards website.

New Year -- and a New Path

It’s a new year.  And, of course, when there’s a new year, people start thinking of their new year’s resolutions.
 
When it comes to resolutions, we first think of ways to improve ourselves.  Number one is usually our health.  We’re going to get in shape, lose weight, get healthy.  Number two is often about our finances.  Save money, make a budget and stick to it, control our spending.  Sometimes we want to improve ourselves in other ways.  Learn something new.  Cooking.  Dancing.  (Hey, those could help with the health and fitness resolution…)  Or maybe we decide this is the year to do some home improvement, either inside or outside.

My Favorite Things

When the dog bites, when the bee stingschristmas at Disney
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad
- 'My Favorite Things', Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II

I don’t honestly remember when the song 'My Favorite Things' from the musical The Sound of Music first made it onto the Christmas music playlist. I suppose it does talk about “sleigh bells” and “snowflakes” and “silver white winters”, but it has never struck me as overly Christmassy in nature. In the context of this blog, however, it fits perfectly.

The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is always one of the busiest for many people, myself included. End of year deadlines approach, relatives and friends visit, holiday preparations plow steadily forward, and there are too many parties and get-togethers to number. But even in the midst of everything associated with the holiday season, I still make time to watch some of my favorite Christmas movies.

I enjoy Christmas movies of all kinds – animated, black & white, made for TV, etc. – but there are a handful that I love the most. These are the movies I have to watch each holiday season or I feel like something is missing. For instance, my Mom and I always watch White Christmas while decorating the family Christmas tree. It’s been our tradition for years, and one I would be sad to miss.

For this last blog of the holiday season, Donna (my wonderful movie blogging partner) and I have put together a list of our must-watch holiday movies. What movies do you consider essential holiday viewing?

A Christmas Carol

scrooge's turkeyOf all the traditional Christmas tales, there is one that has been explored in movies and television more than any other: A Christmas Carol. Originally a novella written by Charles Dickens in 1843, A Christmas Carol is an enduring classic of the holiday season. It tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly old man who detests Christmas. On Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by three spirits who help him transform into a kinder and gentler man who embodies the spirit of the season.

It’s not hard to see why filmmakers have continually found themselves drawn to retell Dickens’ classic tale. It includes many of the elements audiences find most compelling: a holiday setting; a transformation for the better; a variety of ghosts; and an endearing family who are down on their luck, yet still happy. It is also a story that lends itself easily to adaptation. Dickens’ story has been retold as a comedy (Scrooged), a parody (Blackadder’s Christmas Carol), a musical (A Christmas Carol: The Musical), with Muppets (The Muppet Christmas Carol) and mice (Mickey’s Christmas Carol), a science fiction tale (Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol), and more. Some of the elements might change from version to version, but the general story of transformation and rebirth is always present.

If you’re in the mood to watch a version of the Charles Dickens classic this holiday season, check out the list below. Some of the titles listed below are available through Hoopla, HCPL’s streaming media catalog. If you have questions about how to use Hoopla, please call any of the HCPL locations and ask a librarian for help getting started.

Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town…

Babbo NataleYou'd better watch out, you'd better not cry
You'd better not pout, I'm telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town
- 'Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town', John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie

I’ve said this year after year, but it bears repeating: I love Christmas! Christmas was always a big celebration in my house as a child, so the holiday has always been my favorite. I love putting up decorations (in fact, I’ve already helped decorate 3 different trees!), singing Christmas carols, watching Christmas movies, making Christmas cookies, and picking out the perfect gifts for family and friends.

As a child, one of my favorite things about Christmas was, of course, Santa Claus. I loved picturing him in his workshop at the North Pole, preparing all year long with the elves for Christmas. There was nothing I wanted more than to take The Polar Express to the North Pole and hear the reindeer bells. I even wrote a letter to Santa every year and, once or twice, received a reply! And there was nothing more fun than waking up Christmas morning to find that Santa had eaten the cookies we set out and left presents under the tree.

Although Christmas movies take all forms and genres, Santa continues to be a popular theme. In some, like The Santa Clause, he is the main character, while in others, like Frosty the Snowman, he plays only a minor role. A few of these movies, like The Nightmare Before Christmas, even feature a character posing as Santa for some nefarious purpose. But no matter the role, Santa is always crucial to the climax of the story.

It’s early in December yet, but it’s certainly time to start watching favorite Christmas movies! If you’re in the mood for a movie featuring Santa Claus, check out one of the titles below. Many of the movies on the list are meant for children, but that doesn’t mean adults can’t still watch them and remember the magic and wonder of Christmases past.

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