Movies & TV

Patty Duke (1946-2016)

Patty Duke was a star at 12 years old, taking Broadway by storm in The Miracle Worker, playing young deafblind Helen Keller.  At age 16, she received an Oscar and a Golden Globe for that same role in

College Bound

New to movie theaters this April is Richard Linklater’s newest film, Everybody Wants Some!! (And, yes. The exclamation points are an official part of the title.) A sequel in spirit to his classic high school film Dazed and Confused, Everybody Wants Some!! follows an incoming college freshman during his first weekend living on campus with the school’s baseball team. The film premiered earlier this month at South by Southwest to stellar reviews, and promises to be lighter and more humorous in tone than Linklater’s last film, Oscar-nominated opus Boyhood.

College has long served as a backdrop for movies. This is no surprise because it is generally a time of immense change. Freedom from parental figures allows teenagers to finally begin to grow up, reinvent themselves, and experience the world on their own. It also, as many movies set in college focus on, means new friendships, new relationships, and parties. The freedoms of college allow filmmakers to approach their movies from a variety of genres, whether serious (Good Will Hunting) or humorous (Animal House), animated (Monsters University) or empowering (Legally Blonde).

If you’re in the mood for a college movie and can’t wait for Linklater’s newest film to reach Houston’s theaters, browse the HCPL catalog and request something off the list below!

Like Mother, Like Daughter

It’s not unusual for children to follow in the footsteps of their parents.  A talent or interest for certain professions seem to run in families.  Sometimes it’s to carry on a business.  Sometimes it’s because the child grows up seeing the parent making a career and wants to do something similar.  Whether it’s farming or manufacturing or being a doctor or a teacher, parents and children will often travel along the same path. 

88th Academy Awards

OscarsLast night, this year’s movie awards season finally came to an end at the glitzy and glamorous Academy Awards. The proceedings were kicked off by a powerful, yet still funny opening monologue by second-time host Chris Rock, that addressed the diversity controversy that has shrouded this year’s Oscar nominees. His comments were insightful and set the tone of the rest of the ceremony.

Although perhaps not the most exciting of Oscar ceremonies, there were plenty of surprise wins to balance out the foregone conclusions. The Revenant did take home two of the top prizes with wins for actor Leonardo DiCaprio and director Alejandro G. Iñárritu. DiCaprio’s win, his first after previously being nominated 5 other times, made the Internet explode with glee, while Iñárritu’s win makes him the first director to win back to back Oscars since John Mankiewicz 65 years ago. However, in the end The Revenant couldn’t clinch the best picture win. That Oscar went to Spotlight, the highly-praised ensemble drama about the Boston Globe reporters who investigated reports of abuse within the Catholic Church.

Other surprises of the evening included Mark Rylance winning Supporting Actor over Stallone, the sentimental favorite; the visual effects team for the fairly low-budget Ex Machina winning over blockbusters like Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Mad Max: Fury Road; and, in a musical upset, Sam Smith’s song for the newest Bond film winning over Lady Gaga’s documentary anthem, an earlier performance of which had prompted a standing ovation.

The big winner of the evening, taking home the most statues, was the post-apocalyptic film Mad Max: Fury Road, with six wins in technical categories. Highly rated by critics and audiences alike, it was nice to see the Academy voters honor such a high energy, big budget summer movie. I was disappointed that George Miller did not take home the Oscar for best director or picture, but it was lovely to see how much respect the winners in the technical categories had for Miller’s artistic vision.  

If you missed the ceremony last night, the official Oscars website has a complete list of winners, as well as videos of most of the acceptance speeches. There are also videos of Chris Rock’s opening monologue, performances of three of the nominated songs, and the In Memoriam accompanied by Dave Grohl singing “Blackbird.”

2016 Oscar Nominations: Best Actress & Best Supporting Actress

There’s a first time for everything.  And this year’s Oscar nominations include first time recognition for wonderfully talented actresses.  Of course there are repeat nominations for other equally talented women.  But I have to say that, when I heard the list of contenders for this year’s awards, a few of those first-time nominees had me cheering and saying, “It’s about time!”

So let’s take a look at the actresses up for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress this year.  And try to figure out if the winners will be those new to the Oscars or someone who’s already made a trip up to the podium to accept the award.


Best Actress

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.
 

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