Monday, April 27, 2015

Real (Reel) People Win Oscars: 2015 Edition

When it comes to win an Academy Award, recent years have shown that not any bio-pic performance means a guaranteed nomination, but if you get nominated for your performance playing a real person, then there is a good chance you will win.

Of the past 10 years (20 Lead Actor/Actress winners), 12 of these winners have won for playing real life people. That's 60% of winners since the 2003 ceremony.

• In 2014 Eddie Redmayne played Stephen Hawking, the famous theoretical physicist won the Oscar for Best Actor (post here)
• In 2013 Matthew McConaughey played AIDs drug smuggler Ron Woodroof and won the Oscar for Best Actor. (post here)
• In 2012 Daniel Day-Lewis played Abraham Lincoln and won the Best Actor award (his third Oscar win) (post here)
• In 2011 Meryl Streep played the well known British prime minister Margaret Thatcher and won the Best Actress prize (her third Oscar) (post here)
• In 2010 Colin Firth played King George VI, stuttering British royalty at the dawn of the radio era and won for Best Actor. (post here)
• In 2009 Sandra Bullock played a surprise hero as the Southern mother Leigh Ann Tuohy and won for Best Actress.
• In 2008 Sean Penn played controversial politician Harvey Milk and won the Oscar for Best Actor.(post here)
• In 2007 Marion Cotillard played French singer Ediath Piaf and won the Oscar for Best Actress. (post here)
• In 2006 Helen Mirren played Queen Elizabeth II and won the Oscar for Best Actress.
• In 2006 Forrest Whitaker played Ugandan dictator Idi Amin and won the Oscar for Best Actor
• In 2005 Reese Witherspoon played country music celeb June Carter and won the Oscar for Best Actress.
• In 2005 Philip Seymour Hoffman played author Truman Capote and won the Oscar for Best Actor.

The non-biopic winners from the past 10 years:Jiulianne Moore (Still Alice),  Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Lining Playbook), Jean Dujardin (The Artist), Natalie Portman (Black Swan), Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart), Kate Winslet (The Reader), and  Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood)

I wouldn't expect 2015 to be different. As a result we can almost plan on either Best Actor Oscar winner or Best Actress winner going to a performer who played in a biographical film as a "Real (Reel) Person."

2015 Real (Reel) People Performances:

(Coming Soon)

Click the following links to see the previous Real (Reel) People projects from 2014201320122011201020092008 and 2007. Or check the reel people archive.

App Thoughts: Robinhood

One of the apps that I have really been pleased with recently is Robinhood iOS application.

Robinhood is a stock market trading application that launched to the public in the past couple months (after a significant waiting list in beta mode).

The application allows for stocks to be traded in real time with $0 minimum balance and $0 trades. The general thought process being that the company can leverage technology to minimize overhead.

Ever since high school there has been various times were I've been clued into the market, watching certain stocks and having an interest to jump into the game. Yet, to pick individual stocks has been something that just didn't seem financially feasible. I wanted to dabble, not set a major account.

Instead, I do have a employer sponsored 401k which I actively monitor and adjust my mix based on what's going on, but not being allowed to play in the weeds.

So, when I heard about this app, I wanted to give it a try. And with some generally nominal deposits, I've had the chance to try it out and find it to be a fantastic opportunity to start small and make my own investments.

Having not worked with the competitors of Robinhood, I'm not sure where this company is providing me better or worse services than more established companies of this type.

Application designers of the Palo Alto start-up have done a nice job in their application design and web design. Even their frequently asked questions section of their website is clearly written, helpful, and very transparent.

The things that I enjoy here as well has been the thought process of investing - I have always read and heard people discuss things like "invest in what you know" or "invest in what you're already buying" and it's been interesting to spend some more time delving into the companies that own the products that I regularly consume. Obviously some companies are logical (we all know Nike's makes shoes), but when it comes to knowing who really owns the shoe brands I love, or the eggs I buy it has been enlightening and educational in it's own way.

It's exciting to see apps that do more things than just create mindless games, but instead create accessibility to something that previously was (or seemed) far less accessible. Very pleased, very pleased.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Who is Carol Danvers? Casting predictions for Captain Marvel

As the Avengers universe gets built out on screen Marvel and DC Comics have a gold mine of source material at their disposal. Ever since the Iron Man movie proved that there was an appetite the went beyond Batman, Spider-Man, and Super Man the opportunities for super hero cinema (with the right cast, budget and special effects team) is nearly endless.

A 2018 release of the film Captain Marvel has been announced for 2018. This iteration of Captain Marvel pulls from the Carol Danvers mythology - a blonde haired, blue eyed super hero who first appeared in Marvel Super Heroes # 13 as Carol Danvers, and then as Ms. Marvel #1 in 1977.

She didn't appear as Captain Marvel in 2012 in Avenging Spider-Man Vol. 1 #9.  

Who Will Play The Part of Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel?

I suspect we will find out shortly, especially as the Avengers series often gives it's viewers a strong dose of anticipation in the way it creates a road map to future films, either within the films themselves or at the end after the very long credits.

So why not jump in here and speculate here are my best guesses for who might be cast to play the Superhero. I'm generally convinced it will be someone young that can grow into the series. So I'm excluding possible contenders over 35 (sorry, Charlize Theron, Rosamund Pike, Jessica Chastain and Naomi Watts...you'd be great, I'm sure but it doesn't seem like that's how they're casting the very big series). I also assume it will be someone famous with a track record that shows some generally dependability. They need to have the acting chops to portray a wide range of emotions -- both a general softness and then a powerful aggressive side as well. I'm also assuming it will be someone who can be convincing as a blue eyed blonde (hence the white-washed list below).

That leaves me with these 10 predictions (in alphabetical order by last name, because I couldn't rate them)

Emily Blunt

Natalie Dormer

Dakota Fanning

Brie Larson

Jennifer Lawrence

Margot Robbie

Taylor Schilling

Emma Stone

Olivia Wilde

Shailene Woodley

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Good Lie

This past weekend finally got around to seeing the film The Good Lie staring Reese Witherspoon. The film is directed by Philippe Falardeau (known for the Oscar nominated foreign film Monsieur Lazhar) and is a dramatic account of a group of the Lost Boys of Sudan who resettle in United States.

Reese Witherspoon plays an employment agent who is responsible for finding these young men employment and who become engaged in their lives as they encounter America after their own tremendous experience in eastern Africa as they escaped death in the wide spread civil war.

Like the documentary God Grew Tired of Us (2005) [discussed on this blog in 2008] this film reminds us of the incredibly true story and creates a unique opportunity to reflect on aid, the American experience, global needs, and the power of survival.

The story is weighty, but told with a gentle and honest hand. Performance are relatively strong, outside of Witherspoons you have a compelling performances by Ger Duany, Kuoth Wiel, and Corey Stoll.

The film never drags with great pacing at is rolls through it's various acts. The film's limited gross in the United States in it's fall 2014 release (just under three million domestically) was surely a disappointment, but many films which did much better at the box office hardly touched the importance of the story told here.
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