Monthly Archives: February 2014

Oscars 2014 – Best Actress

What is Acting?

“I don’t know what Acting is, but I enjoy it” – Sir Anthony Hopkins

Acting is the work of an actor or actress, which is a person in theatre, television, film, or any other storytelling medium who tells the story by portraying a character and, usually, speaking or singing the written text or play.

An actor/actress is a person portraying a character in a dramatic or comic production; she or he performs in: film, television, theatre, or radio. Actor, ὑποκριτής (hypokrites), literally means “one who interprets”; an actor, then, is one who interprets a dramatic character.

After 1660 in England, when women first appeared on stage, actor and actress were initially used interchangeably for female performers, but later, influenced by the French actriceactress became the usual term.

And the nominees for Best Actress 2014 are….

Amy Adams – American Hustle

amy adams

I have two words for Amy Adams in this movie: Excellent and HOT!!! I loved her and I loved this film…oh but I’ve only said that a million times already 🙂

Amy Lou Adams was born in Italy, to American parents Kathryn (Hicken) and Richard Kent Adams, while her father was a U.S. serviceman. She was raised in a Mormon family of seven children in Castle Rock, Colorado.

Adams sang in the school choir at Douglas County High School and was an apprentice dancer at a local dance company, with the ambition of becoming a ballerina. However, she worked as a greeter at The Gap and as a Hooters hostess to support herself before finding work as a dancer at Boulder’s Dinner Theatre and Country Dinner Playhouse in such productions as “Brigadoon” and “A Chorus Line”. It was there that she was spotted by a Minneapolis dinner-theater director who asked her to move to Chanhassen, Minnesota for more regional dinner theater work.

Nursing a pulled muscle that kept her from dancing, she was free to audition for a part in Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999), which was filming nearby in Minnesota. During the filming, Kirstie Alley encouraged her to move to Los Angeles, where she soon won a part in the Fox television version of the film, Cruel Intentions (1999), in the part played in the film by Sarah Michelle Gellar, “Kathryn Merteuil”. Although three episodes were filmed, the troubled series never aired. Instead, parts of the episodes were cobbled together and released as the direct-to-video Cruel Intentions 2 (2000). After more failed television spots, she landed a major role in Catch Me If You Can (2002), playing opposite Leonardo DiCaprio. But this did not provide the break-through she might have hoped for, with no work being offered for about a year. She eventually returned to television, and joined the short-lived series, Dr. Vegas (2004).

Her role in the low-budget independent film Junebug (2005) (which was shot in 21 days) got her real attention, including an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress as well as other awards. The following year, her ability to look like a wide-eyed Disney animated heroine helped her to be chosen from about 300 actresses auditioning for the role of “Giselle” in the animated/live-action feature film, Enchanted (2007), which would prove to be her major break-through role. Her vivacious yet innocent portrayal allowed her to use her singing and dancing talents. Her performance garnered a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.

Adams next appeared in the major production, Charlie Wilson’s War (2007), and went on to act in the independent film, Sunshine Cleaning (2008), which premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. Her role as “Sister James” in Doubt (2008) brought her a second Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress, as well as nominations for a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild award, and a British Academy Film award. She appeared as Amelia Earhart in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009) and as a post-9/11 hot line counselor, aspiring writer, amateur cook and blogger in Julie & Julia (2009). More recently, she starred with Jason Segel in The Muppets (2011) and alongside Clint Eastwood in Trouble with the Curve (2012).

– IMDb Mini Biography By: Brian Greenhalgh

Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine


I have one word for Cate Blanchett: Winner!!! 

She is the well deserved front runner in this category and it is almost certain that she will win.

Cate Blanchett was born on 14 May 1969 in the Melbourne suburb of Ivanhoe. Her mother, June (née Gamble), was an Australian property developer and teacher, and her father, Robert DeWitt Blanchett, Jr., was a Texas native who was a United States Navy petty officer and later worked as an advertising executive. The two met while Blanchett’s father’s ship, USS Arneb, was in Melbourne. When Blanchett was ten, her father died of a heart attack. She is the middle of three children with an older brother, Bob, who is a computer systems engineer, and a younger sister, Genevieve, who worked as a theatrical designer. Her ancestry includes English, and more distant French and Scottish.

Blanchett has described herself as being “part extrovert, part wallflower” during childhood. She attended a primary school in Melbourne at Ivanhoe East Primary School. For her secondary education, she attended Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School and then Methodist Ladies’ College, where she explored her passion for acting. She studied economics and fine arts at the University of Melbourne before leaving Australia to travel overseas.

Blanchett has spoken passionately about feminism and politics, telling Sky News in 2013 that she was a concerned that “a wave of conservatism sweeping the globe” was threatening women’s rights. She has also commented on the pressures women in Hollywood face now: “Honestly, I think about my appearance less than I did ten years ago. People talk about the golden age of Hollywood because of how women were lit then. You could be Joan Crawford and Bette Davis and work well into your 50s, because you were lit and made into a goddess. Now, with everything being sort of gritty, women have this sense of their use-by date.” 

In January 2014, Blanchett took part in the Green Carpet Challenge, an initiative to raise the public profile of sustainable fashion, founded by Livia Firth of Eco-Age. Blanchett wore a pair of Fairmined earrings set with responsibly-sourced diamonds by the luxury Jeweller Chopard.

Sandra Bullock – Gravity



I have one word for this movie and the idea of being trapped in Space: Scary!!!

And Sandra Bullock captured it. The fear and despair, the surrender, the rediscovery of self, the strength and resilience. Spoiler Alert: My favorite part was at the end when she is back on earth having made it through the trials and the camera tilts up from her feet to her full standing position of strength and triumph. Girl Power dude!!! We all can make it out of our trials too 🙂

Bullock was born in Arlington, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C. Her father, John W. Bullock (born 1925), was a United States Army employee and part-time voice coach; her mother, Helga Mathilde Meyer (1942–2000), was an opera singer and voice teacher. Bullock’s father was from Birmingham, Alabama, and had English, Irish, German, and French ancestry, while Bullock’s mother was German. Bullock’s maternal grandfather was a rocket scientist from Nuremberg, Germany. Bullock’s father, then in charge of the Army’s Military Postal Service in Europe, was stationed in Nuremberg when he met his wife. They married in Germany and moved to Arlington, where John worked with the Army Materiel Command, before becoming a contractor for The Pentagon. She has a younger sister, Gesine Bullock-Prado, who was formerly the vice-president of Bullock’s production company Fortis Films.

Bullock was raised in Nuremberg, Germany for twelve years and grew up speaking German. She attended the humanistic Waldorf School. As a child, Bullock frequently accompanied her mother on European opera tours. Bullock studied ballet and vocal arts as a child, taking small parts in her mother’s opera productions. She sang in the operas children’s choir at the Staatstheater Nürnberg. The scar above her left eye was caused when she fell into a creek as a child. Bullock attended Washington-Lee High School, where she was a cheerleader and performed in high school theater productions. After graduating in 1982, she attended East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, where she received a degree in drama in 1986. She then moved to Manhattan and supported herself as a bartender, cocktail waitress, and coat checker while auditioning for roles.

This led to acting in television programs and then feature films. She gave memorable performances in Demolition Man (1993) and Wrestling Ernest Hemingway (1993), but did not achieve the stardom that seemed inevitable for her until her work in the smash hit Speed (1994). She now ranks as one of the most popular actresses in Hollywood. For her role in The Blind Side (2009) she won the Oscar, and her blockbusters The Proposal (2009), The Heat(2013) and Gravity (2013) made her a bankable star. With $56,000,000, she was listed in the Guinness Book Of World Records as the highest-paid actress in the world.

Judi Dench – Philomena

judi dench


Pictured here with the real Philomena

Ok, the one word I have for Dame Judi Dench is: British! LOL

But let’s face it, how many theatre trained actors from Britain are anything less than almost perfect??? We love them, love to watch them, love to listen to them, hope to work with them, and Judi Dench is no different. Besides, I have a wealth of respect for older women actors. Especially the ones who ride on their work and talent, and not on retaining a younger look by repeated surgeries. Ms. Judi is a beautiful woman and extremely talented. I have not seen Philomena yet, but I was present at The View, when the real Philomena was on to talk about the issues that the film addresses. It is heart wrenching from a mother’s perspective and I can only imagine that Judi Dench did not fail to deliver in that subtle way that she always does.

Judi Dench was born in HeworthYork, England. Her mother, Eleanora Olive (née Jones), was born in Dublin, to a Protestant family. Her father, Reginald Arthur Dench, was a doctor, born in Dorset, South West England, but who grew up in Dublin. He met Judi’s mother while he was studying medicine at Trinity College, Dublin. Dench attended the Mount School, a Quaker independent secondary school in York, and became a Quaker. Her brothers, one of whom is actor Jeffery Dench, were born in TyldesleyLancashire.Notable relatives also include her niece, Emma Dench, a Roman historian and professor previously at Birkbeck, University of London, and currently at Harvard University.

In Britain, Dench has developed a reputation as one of the greatest actors of the post-war period, primarily through her work in theatre, which has been her forte throughout her career. She has more than once been named number one in polls for Britain’s best actor.

She is a ten-time BAFTA winner including Best Actress in a Comedy Series for A Fine Romance (1981) in which she appeared with her husband, Michael Williams, and Best Supporting Actress in A Handful of Dust (1988) and A Room with a View (1985) . She received an ACE award for her performance in the television series Star Quality: Mr. and Mrs. Edgehill (1985). She was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1970, and was created Dame of Order of the British Empire in 1988.

Meryl Streep – August: Osage County

"August: Osage County" - Los Angeles Premiere

Now we ALL know that the great and flawless Meryl Streep can do no wrong! not even in a disaster like Mama Mia; it didn’t matter that the film was bad, it was jsut fun watching Meryl Streep have fun! And that is exactly why I totally love this woman. She is so not hollywood!!! She seems like a regular person. and she does not take herself too seriously and she does not exude vanity like some others do. I think I have enjoyed her in everything I have seen her in. Just recently saw ‘Adaptation’ again…Oh what fun! AND…she is another “older” actress that is still doing it and doing it WELL!. I don’t think she’ll be winning this, but way to go Meryl, as usual. 

Meryl Streep was born in Summit, New Jersey. Her mother, Mary Wolf (née Wilkinson; 1915–2001), was a commercial artist and an art editor, and her father, Harry William Streep, Jr. (1910–2003), was a pharmaceutical executive. She has two brothers, Dana David and Harry William III.

Streep’s father was of German and Swiss-German ancestry. Her patrilineal line traces back to Loffenau, Germany, from where her second great-grandfather, Gottfried Streeb [sic], emigrated to the United States, and where one of her ancestors served as mayor. Another line of her father’s family was from Giswil in the canton of Obwalden, a small town in Switzerland. Her mother had English, German, and Irish ancestry. Some of Streep’s maternal ancestors lived in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, and were descended from 17th century immigrants from England. Her eighth great-grandfather, Lawrence Wilkinson, was one of the first Europeans to settle Rhode Island. Streep is also a distant relative of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, and records show that her family is among the first purchasers of land in the state. Streep’s maternal great-great-grandparents, Manus McFadden (b. 1831) and Grace Strain (b. 1832), were natives of the Hook Head district of DunfanaghyCounty Donegal, Ireland.

She was raised a Presbyterian, and grew up in Bernardsville, New Jersey, where she attended Bernards High School. She had many school friends who were Catholic, and regularly attended Mass because she loved its rituals. She received her B.A., in Drama, from Vassar College in 1971 (where she briefly received instruction from actress Jean Arthur), but also enrolled as a visiting student at Dartmouth College a quarter before it became coeducational. She subsequently earned an M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama.

She is widely regarded as one of the best living American film actresses.

Streep has received 18 Academy Award nominations, winning three, and 28 Golden Globe nominations, winning eight, more nominations than any other actor in the history of either award. Her work has also earned her two Emmy Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, a Cannes Film Festivalaward, five New York Film Critics Circle Awards, two BAFTA awards, two Australian Film Institute awards, five Grammy Award nominations, and aTony Award nomination, among several others. She was awarded the AFI Life Achievement Award in 2004 and the Kennedy Center Honor in 2011 for her contribution to American culture through performing arts, the youngest actor in each award’s history. President Barack Obama awarded her the 2010 National Medal of Arts.

Streep is the spokesperson for the National Women’s History Museum, to which she has donated a significant amount of money (including her fee for The Iron Lady) and hosted numerous events.

On October 4, 2012, Streep donated $1 million to The Public Theater in honor of both its late founder, Joseph Papp, and her friend, the author Nora Ephron. She also supports Gucci‘s “Chime For Change” campaign that aims to spread female empowerment.

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Way to go, President Obama!!!

Obama initiative

I believe this might be one of the very reasons Obama became the president of our great country. To bring about the means for EVERY person in America to have a fair chance at the greatness that this country stands for.

Bravo Mr. President!!!

Obama announced “My Brother’s Keeper”….

(CNN) – In a moving and heartfelt message Thursday, President Barack Obama challenged young minority men to make good choices.

“Part of our message in this initiative is ‘no excuses’. Government and private sector and philanthropy and all the faith communities, we have the responsibility to provide you the tools you need,” he said at a White House event.

Read all about Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” Initiative here….

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Oscars 2014 – Best Supporting Actor

For the education portion of this post, please refer to my previous post here!

There is a definite forerunner here, but nothing is guaranteed when there are such excellent performances in this category.

And the nominees are….

Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips

Actor Barkhad Abdi poses for a portrait during a photo opportunity for the film "Captain Phillips" in Los Angeles

Sorry to be so unoriginal in my choice of movie clip, but this is the main one out there and it’s the one everyone is quoting Barkhad from “I am the Captain now!”

This is one of those Hollywood stories we love to hear about and that we wish would happen to us. Like Mekhi Phifer, Djimon Hounsou, Gabourey Sidibe…excellent actors “discovered” just by chance.

Barkhad was a Limo driver chosen out of close to 1000 other actors/non-actors auditioning in Minneapolis. What are the odds???? But miracles DO happen!

Read more about Barkhad’s experience in Captain Phillips Here!

Barkhad Abdi was born in 1985 in Mogadishu, located in the southern Banaadir region of Somalia. He was raised in Yemen.

In 1999, at the age of 14, Abdi moved with his family to Minneapolis, United States. He subsequently attended an engineering course at Minnesota State University Moorhead, located four hours northwest of Minneapolis. Before entering the film industry, he worked as a limousine driver at a relative’s chauffeur company, a store-clerk at a self-employed telecommunications business with his brother Guled Abdi, and a disc jockey in Minnesota.

Abdi is presently directing a movie, Ciyaalka Xaafada. He has also directed several music videos. As of January 2014, he is reading scripts for a TV show.

In 2013, Abdi served as an Ambassador for the NGO Adeso run by the Somali environmentalist Fatima Jibrell.

Bradley Cooper – American Hustle


Have I already said how much I loved this movie?? And I love Bradley Cooper. I used to think he was just about comedic Hangover type movies and then I saw him in Silver Linings Playbook. And then I saw him in The Place Beyond the Pines. He was awesome!!! and NOW he is in American Hustle and he does not disappoint. He is part of an excellent ensemble and he does not drop the ball for a minute. He is a very talented…and might I add, good looking actor ;-). He is sure to have even more of a stellar career still ahead of him.

Bradley Cooper was born in Philadephia, Pennsylvania. His mother, Gloria (Campano), is of Italian descent, and worked for a local NBC station. His father, Charlie Cooper, who was of Irish descent, was a stockbroker. He has a sister, Holly. Immediately after Bradley graduated from the Honors English program at Georgetown University in 1997, he moved to New York City to enroll in the Masters of Fine Arts program at the Actors Studio Drama School at New School University. There, he developed his stage work, culminating with his thesis performance as “John Merrick” in Bernard Pomerance‘s “The Elephant Man”, performed in New York’s Circle in the Square. While still in school, Bradley began his professional career, appearing opposite Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex and the City(1998) and in the series, The Beat (2000). His weekends were spent with LEAP (Learning through the Expanded Arts Program), a non-profit organization that teaches acting and movement to inner city school children. The summers took him all across the globe, from kayaking in British Columbia with Orca Whales to ice-climbing in the Peruvian Andes, while hosting Lonely Planet’s Treks in a Wild World (2000) for the Discovery Channel. Bradley had to skip his graduation ceremony from the Actor’s Studio in order to star in his first feature film, Wet Hot American Summer (2001). After finishing his second feature, Bending All the Rules (2002), his plans to relocate to Los Angeles were delayed when Darren Star hired him to star in the series The $treet (2000). Bradley went on to win the role of young law student “Gordon Pinella” in the film Changing Lanes (2002), starring Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson, and also stars as “Travis Paterson” in My Little Eye (2002). He finally decided that it was time to forgo his other New York projects and move to Los Angeles when he was cast in Alias (2001).

– IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymous

Michael Fassbender – 12 Years a Slave


Michael Fassbender has got to be the best looking, meanest S.O.B. plantation master one could have. Woe betide any slave who happens to be sold into his household. Stay Away, Stay away!!! But then, thank goodness, he is only acting. The first time I really saw Michael Fassbender was in Inglourious Bastards, which I enjoyed immensely, but he already has quite a body of work behind him and he is obviously very good at what he does.

Michael Fassbender was born in Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. His mother, Adele, is from LarneCounty Antrim, in Northern Ireland, and his father, Josef Fassbender, is German. According to Fassbender’s “family lore,” his mother is the great-grand-niece of Michael Collins, an Irish leader during the War of Independence. When he was two years old, his parents moved to KillarneyCounty Kerry, in the Republic of Ireland, where they ran the West End House, a restaurant where his father worked as a chef. Fassbender served as an altar boy and is a lapsed Catholic. He has an older sister Catherine who works at the University of California, Davis as a neuropsychologist.

Fassbender and his sister spent summer holidays in Germany and he speaks German fluently. He attended Fossa National School and St. Brendan’s College (The Sem). He discovered he wanted to be an actor at age 17 when he was cast in a play by Donie Courtney. At age 19, Fassbender moved to London to study at the Drama Centre London. He dropped out of the Drama Centre and toured with the Oxford Stage Company to perform the play Three Sisters.

He speaks German, though he stated that he needed to brush up a bit on his spoken German because it was a bit rusty before filming Inglourious Basterds. He has also expressed interest in performing in a German-language film or theatre production one day. Fassbender is a Formula 1 fan, has attended several races and whilst on Top Gear he stated that he was a Michael Schumacher fan and had met him at the British Grand Prix.

Jonah Hill – The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street UK Premiere

Jonah Hill is doing an awesome job of reinventing himself. He lost a bunch of weight and moved from doing somewhat frat boy comedic roles to doing dramatic acting work, winning recognition and nominations along the way. I thought he did a good job in Moneyball for which he got his first nomination, but his work in Wolf of Wall Street is on another level. This was a whole new Jonah to me. He totally deserves this nomination. A quick message about comedy though, I have to say that I was rolling on the floor laughing watching “This is the End”. Also his role in Django Unchained had me cracking up LOL

Jonah Hill was born and raised in Los Angeles, the son of Sharon (Chalkin), a fashion designer and costume stylist, and Richard Feldstein, a tour accountant for Guns N’ Roses. He graduated from Crossroads School in Santa Monica and went on to The New School in New York to study drama.

He began writing and performing in plays while at college in New York, and managed to get himself introduced to Dustin Hoffman, through whom he got an audition for his first film role in I Heart Huckabees (2004). A succession of increasingly high profile film and TV parts followed until he eventually landed one of the starring roles in the teen hit, Superbad (2007). Continuing to write and act, more roles followed as well as popular appearances on US TV talk shows.

– IMDb Mini Biography By: IMDb Editors

Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club

jared leto

When Jared Leto won the Golden Globes and they played a clip from the movie, I was confused. I didn’t understand why they kept showing clips that did not have Jared in them. And then it clicked…he WAS that ‘woman’ in the car with Matthew McConaughey. Wow! Then recently I saw the film and I understood why he won. Not only does he look real as a transgender woman, but he was a very convincing, very skinny, AIDS patient. What a transformation! Both he and Matthew put in Oscar worthy performances in this film and it is already quite clear that Jared is the front runner in this category.

Jared Leto was born in Bossier City, Louisiana, the son of Constance Leto (née Metrejon). His mother has Cajun ancestry. “Leto” is a stepfather’s surname. His parents divorced when he was a child, and he and his older brother Shannon lived with their mother and their maternal grandparents William Lee Metrejon and Ruby Russell. His father remarried and died soon after. Leto moved frequently with his family from his native Louisiana to different cities around the country. “My mom’s father was in the Air Force,” Leto explained, “so moving around a lot was a normal way of life.” Leto has two younger half-brothers from his father’s second marriage.

Constance joined the hippie movement and encouraged her sons to get involved in the arts. “I was raised around a lot of artists, musicians, photographers, painters and people that were in theater,” he stated in an interview with Kerrang!; “Just having the art communal hippie experience as a child, there wasn’t a clear line that was drawn. We celebrated creative experience and creative expression. We didn’t try and curtail it and stunt any of that kind of growth.” Leto grew up listening to classic rock from Pink Floyd to Led Zeppelin and his first musical instrument was a broken-down piano.

After dropping out briefly in the 10th grade, Leto decided to return and focus on his education at the private Emerson Preparatory School in Washington, D.C., but graduated from Flint Hill Schoolin Oakton, Virginia.[12] He was interested in large-scale visual art and enrolled at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. After developing an interest in filmmaking, he transferred to the School of Visual Arts in New York City. While he was a student there, he wrote and starred in his own short film, Crying Joy.

Leto is considered to be a method actor, known for his constant devotion to and research of his roles. He often remains completely in character for the duration of the shooting schedules of his films, even to the point of adversely affecting his health. He is also known to be selective about his film roles.

Leto is the lead vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and main songwriter for Thirty Seconds to Mars, a band which he formed in 1998 in Los Angeles, California with his older brother Shannon Leto.

He is an avid philanthropist, a vegan supporting animal rights, a supporter of Gay Rights and of the Environment.

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Oscars 2014 – Best Supporting Actress

A supporting actor is a person who plays a part in a television show, movie, or stage production. He or she plays a role other than those of the lead characters, and a supporting actor is usually not part of the primary focus of the plot. He or she can “support” the lead actors by taking part in key plot movements or character developments, but the supporting actors should never upstage the leads or become the primary focus instead of the leads. In some productions, these actors are often characters that are outlandish or otherwise notable for certain specific characteristics.

Unlike actors known as extras, a supporting actor can be pivotal to the story and may have a significant amount of time on the screen or stage. It is an important job, and it is often recognized as such by award-granting institutions. Playing a supporting role in a movie can be difficult because the supporting actor must be compelling and interesting without upstaging the lead actors or becoming the primary focus of the plot, so the actor must have great skill and an ability to balance his or her acting with that of the leads.

And the Nominees are…

Sally Hawkins – Blue Jasmine



Blue Jasmine is the awesome latest film from director Woody Allen. All the performances in this film were terrific in my opinion, so it is nice to see Sally as one of the nominees. I do not think she will be the winner in this category, but even being nominated means her work was appreciated, and that is a good thing.

Sally Cecilia Hawkins was born in London, England in 1976. The daughter of Jacqui and Colin Hawkins, authors and illustrators of children’s books, Hawkins was born in Dulwich, and brought up in Blackheath, in southeast London. She attended James Allen’s Girls’ School in Dulwich. She graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1998. Hawkins made her first notable screen performance as Samantha in the 2002 Mike Leigh film All or Nothing. In 2007, she played the lead in a new film of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, and followed this with her critically acclaimed performance in Happy-Go-Lucky.

– IMDb Mini Biography

Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle

jennifer lawrence


Already an Oscar winner, this amazing young woman can do no wrong. She already has a solid body of work behind her and she is just getting started. Not to mention that she also has a solid body period. She is hot, she is talented, she can play anything! Winter’s Bone, Silver Linings Playbook, Hunger Games…you can not miss this girl. And if you haven’t seen American Hustle, go see it…it is so good!!!

Academy Award Winning Actress Jennifer Lawrence, best-known for playing Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games (2012), was born in Louisville, Kentucky on August 15, 1990. Her career began when she spent a Summer in Manhattan at the age of 14. During that time, she scored some small commercial and film roles, and shortly thereafter her family moved to Los Angeles so she could further pursue her dream. She was cast in the TBS sitcom The Bill Engvall Show (2007), and in smaller movies like The Poker House(2008) and The Burning Plain (2008).

Her big break came when she played Ree in Winter’s Bone (2010), which landed her Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations. Shortly thereafter, she secured the role of Mystique in franchise reboot X-Men: First Class (2011), which went on to be a hit in Summer 2011. Around this time, Lawrence scored the role of a lifetime when she was cast as Katniss Everdeen in the big-screen adaptation of literary sensation The Hunger Games (2012). That went on to become one of the highest-grossing movies ever with over $407 million at the domestic box office, and instantly propelled Lawrence to the A-list among young actors/actresses. Three Hunger Games sequels are scheduled for release in November 2013, 2014, and 2015, with Lawrence reprising her role at least for the first one (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)). In 2012 the romantic comedy Silver Linings Playbook earned her the Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, Satellite Award and the Independent Spirit Award for Best Actress, amongst other accolades, making her the youngest person ever to be nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Actress and the second-youngest Best Actress winner

Lawrence can also be seen in The Beaver (2011), Like Crazy (2011), House at the End of the Street (2012), and American Hustle (2013).

– IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymous

Lupita Nyong’o



My Goodness!!! This girl is SO beautiful and so very talented. She came out of Drama School and stepped straight on to the red carpet. She is the front runner in this category and it is no wonder. Her performance in 12 years a slave is heart-breakingly real. I wish Lupita all the very best but I am not worried about her, because it is all too clear that she will go on to have no less than a stellar career.

Lupita Nyong’o was born in March 1983 in Mexico City, Mexico, to Dorothy and Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o, a politician in Kenya. It is a Luo tradition to name a child after the events of the day, so her parents named her Lupita (a diminutive of “Guadalupe,” Our Lady of Guadalupe). She is of Luo descent and is the second of six children. Her father was the former Kenyan Minister for Medical Services. At the time of Lupita’s birth, he was a visiting lecturer in political science at El Colegio de Mexico in Mexico City, and her family had been living in Mexico for three years.

Nyong’o moved back to Kenya with her parents when she was less than one year old, when her father was appointed a professor at the University of Nairobi. She grew up primarily in Kenya, and describes her upbringing as “middle class, suburban”. At age sixteen, her parents sent her back to Mexico for seven months, to learn Spanish. Nyong’o lived in Taxco, Mexico, and took classes at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico‘s Learning Center For Foreigners.

Nyong’o attended college in the United States. After graduating from Hampshire College with a degree in film and theatre studies, she enrolled in the acting program at the Yale School of Drama and landed her breakout role when she was cast in 12 Years a Slave immediately before graduating from Yale with an MFA in 2012

Nyong’o currently resides in Brooklyn, New York. She is fluent in English, Spanish, Swahili, and Luo.

– IMDb Mini Biography

Julia Roberts – August: Osage County



Julia Roberts in August: Osage County is NO Pretty Woman!!! She is rough and gritty like you have never seen her before. She put forth an excellent performance in this film. 

Julia Fiona Roberts, born in Smyrna, Georgia, never dreamed she would become the most popular actress in America. As a child, due to her love of animals, Julia originally wanted to be a veterinarian, but later studied journalism. When her brother, Eric Roberts, achieved some success in Hollywood, Julia decided to try acting. Her first break came in 1988 when she appeared in two youth-oriented movies Mystic Pizza (1988) and Satisfaction (1988). The movies introduced her to a new audience who instantly fell in love with this pretty woman. Julia’s biggest success was in the signature movie Pretty Woman (1990), for which Julia got an Oscar nomination, and also won the People’s Choice award for Favorite Actress. Even though Julia would spend the next few years either starring in serious movies, or playing fantasy roles like Tinkerbell, the movie audiences would always love Julia best in romantic comedies. Julia has also become involved with UNICEF charities and has made visits to many different countries, including Haiti and India, in order to promote goodwill. Julia is one of the most popular and sought-after talents in Hollywood.

– IMDb Mini Biography

June Squibb – Nebraska

June Squib, Bruce Dern


This lady literally carried the film Nebraska. She was great at it and hilarious too. Everything felt real and true. I confess I didn’t really know June before this but I really enjoyed her in Nebraska.

June Squibb was born and raised in Vandalia, Illinois, the only child of JoyBelle (née Force) Squibb (1905–1996) and Lewis Squibb (1905–1996). Her mother was an avid golfer and well-known piano player who began playing for silent movies in the 1920s, and later entered piano competitions, winning the World Championship Old Time Piano Playing Contest in 1975 and 1976. Her father was in the insurance business and was in the Navy during World War II.

Squibb’s first husband was Edward Sostek; the two later divorced. She is the widow of acting teacher Charles Kakatsakis (1929–1999) (his parents were immigrants from Greece), with whom she has one child, Harry Kakatsakis, a filmmaker best known for his short film Admissions, a transformational tale about what it takes to find lasting peace, starring Academy Award nominee James Cromwell. Squibb converted to Judaism when she married Edward Sostek in the 1950s; she still considers herself Jewish.

When asked about ageism in show business, Squibb has stated, “Well, it’s like anything else. I always feel, rules are meant to be broken.

Squibb started her career in musical theatre in St. Louis, and trained at the Cleveland Play House, and also trained at the HB Studio after moving to New York City. She got her big break in New York by landing the role of Dulcie in The Boyfriend Off-Broadway in 1958. In 1959 she performed in an Off-Broadway revival of Lend an Ear starring Elizabeth Allen. She made her Broadway debut in the original production of Gypsy starring Ethel Merman, taking over the role of stripper Electra in 1960. She next appeared in The Happy Time, which opened in 1968 and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Musical. In-between these periods June also did modeling work for romance novels and did commercials.

In 1995 she appeared in the play Sacrilege on Broadway, which starred Ellen Burstyn.

June has also played many roles in national tours, regional theatre, summer stock, and off-Broadway. In 2012 she played the matriarch Stella Gordon in Dividing the Estate at the Dallas Theater Center for which she received standout reviews.


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So long, Farewell…Last of the Von Trapp Family Singers



Maria Franziska von Trapp, the last surviving sibling of seven brothers and sisters who were portrayed in the Broadway musical and the film “The Sound of Music,” died on Tuesday at her home in Stowe, Vt. She was 99.

Her death was confirmed by her half-brother, Johannes von Trapp.

She was the third oldest child of seven born to Baron Georg von Trapp and his first wife, Agathe, who died of scarlet fever. The 1965 film was based on the real story of how the baron fell in love with the children’s governess, also named Maria, and the family toured together as a choir.

Read more…

Von Trapp news is always interesting to me 🙂

I grew up watching The Sound of Music. Knew the whole thing by heart. Fell in love with Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews, and with Musicals as a whole. This movie was definitely one of the earlier and most prominent influences on my desire to be in movies and theatre.

SoundOfMusic poster 2

sound of music





Oscars 2014 – Best Director

The countdown to the Oscars continues today as we look at the nominees for Best Director. So as usual, let’s get educated….

What is Film Directing?

The Director is the driving creative force in a film’s production, and acts as the crucial link between the production, technical and creative teams.  Directors are responsible for creatively translating the film’s written script into actual images and sounds on the screen – he or she must visualize and define the style and structure of the film, then act as both a storyteller and team leader to bring this vision to reality.  Directors’ main duties include casting, script editing, shot composition, shot selection and editing.  While the practical aspects of filmmaking, such as finance and marketing, are left to the Producer, Directors must also always be aware of the constraints of the film’s budget and schedule.  In some cases, Directors assume multiple roles such as Director/Producer or Director/Writer.  Being a Director requires great creative vision, dedication and commitment.  Directors are ultimately responsible for a film’s artistic and commercial success or failure.

Directors may write the film’s script or commission it to be written; or they may be hired after an early draft of the script is complete.  Directors must then develop a vision for the finished film, and define a practical route for achieving it.  During pre-production, Directors make crucial decisions, such as selecting the right cast, crew and locations for the film.  They then direct rehearsals, and the performances of the actors once the film is in production.  Directors also manage the technical aspects of filming, including the camera, sound, lighting, design and special effects departments.

During post- production, Directors work closely with Editors through the many technical processes of editing, to reach the final cut or version of the film.  At all stages, Directors are responsible for motivating the team to produce the best possible results.  Directors must also appreciate the needs and expectations of the film’s financiers.

And the nominees for Best Director are….

American Hustle – David O. Russell


OMG, How I would love to work with David O. Russell. I LOVE his work!

David has been nominated for an Oscar three times and I think he deserves to win one soon. Much respect!

David Owen Russell (born August 20, 1958) is an American film directorscreenwriter, and producer. His early directing career consisted of moderately successful films including Spanking the Monkey (1994), Flirting with Disaster (1996), Three Kings (1999), and I Heart Huckabees (2004).

Russell returned to directing in 2010. His three most recent films are The Fighter (2010), Silver Linings Playbook (2012), and American Hustle (2013), which have all met commercial and critical success. These films have earned Russell three consecutive nominations for the Academy Award for Best Director.

Russell was born in New York City to Bernard and Maria (née Muzio) Russell. His father was a sales executive for Simon & Schuster. His father was from a Russian Jewish family and his mother was Italian American.  He was raised in an atheist household. 

In 2002, Russell met Andrew Unger while receiving an honorary degree at Amherst College. Unger introduced Russell to Joe Hall, president of Ghetto Film School. After viewing some of the student work, Russell immediately joined the board of Ghetto Film School, located in The Bronx, New York. Along with fellow board members, Russell brought filmmaker friends, movie studios, and industry professionals to donate money and lend their time to teach classes and support the growth of young black and Latino filmmakers from the South Bronx and Harlem.  Learn more about the Ghetto Film School here.

American Hustle (2013), is a fictional comedy loosely based on the ABSCAM scandal of the 1970s. The film’s plot revolves around skilled con artists Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) being forced to work for unhinged FBI Agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). Their complicated operation eventually involves Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) of Camden, New Jersey, as well as Irving’s unpredictable wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence). The film reunited Russell with Bale and Adams after The Fighter, as well as with Cooper and Lawrence after Silver Linings Playbook.

Gravity – Alfonso Cuarón


Another super-talented director I could only dream of working with one day. Who could resist falling in love with Gael Garcia Bernal in 2001’s Y Tu Mama Tambien?? If living in NYC was not enough reason to learn Spanish, this movie was. Now Alfonso takes us on a scary 3D space ride in Gravity and is very close to winning an award for it.

Alfonso Cuarón (born 28 November 1961) is a Mexican film directorscreenwriterproducer and editor best known for his films A Little Princess (1995), Y Tu Mamá También (2001), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), Children of Men(2006), and Gravity (2013). His fantasy adventure series Believe is due to be broadcast in 2013–2014.

Most of his work has been praised by both audience and critics, and he has been nominated for six Academy AwardsBest Original Screenplay for Y Tu Mamá TambiénBest Adapted Screenplay and Best Editing for Children of Men, and Best PictureBest Director, and Best Editing for Gravity. He also won a BAFTA Award for Best Film not in the English Language as one of the producers of Guillermo del Toro‘s Pan’s Labyrinth and the Golden Globe Award for Best Director for Gravity.

Alfonso Cuarón was born in Mexico City, and is the son of Alfredo Cuarón, a nuclear physicist who worked for the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency for many years. He has two brothers, Carlos, also a filmmaker, and Alfredo, a conservation biologist.

Cuarón studied Philosophy at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and filmmaking at CUEC (Centro Universitario de Estudios Cinematográficos), a faculty of the same University. There, he met director Carlos Marcovich and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, and they made what would be his first short filmVengeance Is Mine. The controversy caused by the fact that the film was shot in English was not the reason he was expelled from the film school; the reason was that he did not get the authorization to commercialize his film.

Cuarón began working in television in Mexico, first as a technician and then as a director. His television work led to assignments as an assistant director for several Latin American film productions and in 1991, he landed his first big-screen directorial assignment.

In 1995, Cuarón released his first feature film produced in the United States, A Little Princess, an adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett‘s classic novel.

Y Tu Mamá También found him returning to Mexico with a Spanish-speaking cast starring Gael García BernalDiego Luna and Maribel Verdú. It was a provocative and controversial road comedy about two sexually obsessed teenagers who take an extended road trip with an attractive married woman in her late twenties. The film’s open portrayal of sexuality and frequent rude humor, as well as the politically and socially relevant asides, made the film an international hit and a major success with critics. Cuarón shared an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay with co-writer and brother Carlos Cuarón.

In 2003, Cuarón directed the third film in the successful Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  It remained as the most critically acclaimed film of the Harry Potter film franchise until the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2.

Cuarón’s feature Children of Men, an adaptation of the P. D. James novel starring Clive OwenJulianne Moore and Michael Caine, received wide critical acclaim, including three Academy Award nominations. Cuarón himself received two nominations for his work on the film in both Editing (with Alex Rodríguez) and Adapted Screenplay (with several collaborators).

Cuarón also directed the controversial public service announcement “I Am Autism” for Autism Speaks that was sharply criticized by disability rights groups for its negative portrayal of autism.


Nebraska – Alexander Payne


Ok, I know I am sounding like a broken record now, but could I please have  part in an Alexander Payne production??? Sideways is one of my favorite films of all time and I loved the Descendants.

Alexander Payne (born February 10, 1961) is an American film directorscreenwriter, and producer, known for the films Election (1999), About Schmidt (2002), Sideways (2004), The Descendants (2011), and Nebraska (2013). His films are noted for their dark humor and satirical depictions of contemporary American society.

Payne was born in Omaha, Nebraska, the son of Peggy (née Constantine) and George Payne, restaurant owners. Payne is the youngest of three sons and grew up in what is now known as the Dundee-Happy Hollow Historic District, the same neighborhood as billionaire Warren Buffett.

His father is of Greek and German descent, and his mother is of Greek ancestry.His paternal grandfather, Nicholas “Nick” Payne, anglicized the last name from Papadopoulos. His family comes from three areas in Greece: the island of SyrosLivadia, and Aegio.

Payne’s family was part of the fabric of Omaha, which he references as part of his upbringing. His grandfather was one of the original owners who founded The Virginia Cafe, with Payne’s father taking over the restaurant. Payne grew up going there regularly as a child. The Virginia Cafe was a well-known Omaha restaurant that was noteworthy for its connection to historic events in Nebraska at the time: the 1935 streetcar strike, significant sales of Liberty Bonds during the Second World War, and its place—from WWII through Vietnam—for “last meals” to soldiers en route to basic training. It was also open 24-hours a day, which was not common at the time. The Virginia was destroyed in a fire in 1969—the W. Dale Clark Library is located at its former site.

Payne’s paternal grandmother, Clara Payne (née Hoffman), was from a German Nebraska family from Lincoln, Nebraska.

In Omaha, Payne attended Brownell-Talbot School, Dundee Elementary School, and Lewis and Clark Junior High. He graduated from Creighton Prep for high school in 1979. At Prep, Payne wrote a humor column for his high school newspaper and was the editor of the high school yearbook.

Payne then attended Stanford University, where he double majored in Spanish and History. As a part of his Spanish degree, he studied at the University of Salamanca (Spain) and later he lived a few months in Medellin (Colombia) where he published an article about the development and the social changes between 1900 and 1930. Payne got his MFA in 1990 from the UCLA Film School.

Payne’s journey into filmmaking “began in the 1960s when his father, owner of The Virginia Restaurant in downtown Omaha, received an 8mm projector from Kraft Foods as a bonus for being a good customer.” Payne said that when he was about 14 years old he got a used Super 8mm film camera.

A short time after getting his MFA from UCLA Film School—and after his successful thesis film, The Passion of Martin had attracted industry attention—Payne got a writing/directing deal with Universal Pictures. The ensuing screenplay, which was turned down, would ultimately become About Schmidt

Payne sees his talent as being one of learned economy. He refers to the essay written by Tennessee Williams on The Catastrophe of Success.

Payne’s films often revolve around adultery in marriage and relationships. He has set many of his films in Omaha. He has scenes of historical landmarks and museums in his films, and tends to use non-actors for minor roles (real cops play cops, real teachers play teachers, etc.). He frequently incorporates telephone monologues as a dramatic device.

Inspired by silent comedies, Payne uses realism in his films. “Sentimentality is a dirty word to me.” He strives for adult commercial American film inspired by 1970s cinema “where acting style more approximates real life and is relatively free of contrivance and device.”

Payne is on the short list of directors who have final cut rights for their films.

12 Years a Slave – Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen

Shall I say it again? LOL. But seriously, Steve McQueen’s effort on this film earn him tons of respect. He touched on a familiar subject, but did not shy away from the depth, pain and ugliness of the truth that surrounds it. I have heard him speak in interviews about this film and I could not help but be spell bound and impressed with the smarts and passion of this man, so yes….Steve…hire me! LOL

Read the Los Angeles Times Interview with Steve McQueen here…

Steven Rodney “Steve” McQueen CBE (born 9 October 1969) is a British film director, producer, screenwriter, and video artist. He is a winner of the Caméra d’Or and two BAFTAs. His 2013 film, 12 Years a Slave, won him the award for best director from the New York Film Critics Circle, the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture at the 71st Golden Globe Awards, and the award for best film at the 2014 BAFTAs. McQueen is known for his collaborations with actor Michael Fassbender, who has starred in all of McQueen’s three feature films as of 2013.

For his artwork, McQueen has received the Turner Prize, the highest award given to a British visual artist, and in 2006 produced Queen and Country, commemorating the deaths of British soldiers in Iraq by presenting their portraits as a sheet of stamps. For services to the visual arts, he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2011.

McQueen was born in London. He grew up in West London and went to Drayton Manor High School. In a 2014 interview, McQueen stated that he had a very bad experience in school, where he had been placed into a class for students believed best suited “for manual labour, more plumbers and builders, stuff like that.” Later, the new head of the school would admit that there had been “institutional” racism at the time. McQueen added that he was dyslexic and had to wear an eye-patch due to a lazy eye, and reflected this may be why he was “put to one side very quickly”.

He was a keen football player, turning out for the St. Georges Colts football team. He took A level art at Hammersmith and West London College, then studied art and design at Chelsea College of Art and Design and then fine art at Goldsmiths CollegeUniversity of London, where he first became interested in film. He left Goldsmiths and studied briefly at New York University‘s Tisch School in the United States. He found the approach there too stifling and insufficiently experimental, complaining that “they wouldn’t let you throw the camera up in the air”. His artistic influences include Andy WarholSergei EisensteinDziga VertovJean VigoBuster KeatonCarl Theodor DreyerRobert Bresson, and Billy Wilder.

McQueen’s most recent film is 12 Years a Slave (2013). Based on the 1853 autobiography of the same name by Solomon Northup, the film tells the story of a free black man who is kidnapped in 1841 and sold into slavery, working on plantations in the state of Louisiana for twelve years before being released.

The Wolf of Wall Street – Martin Scorsese


Needless to say, Martin has the longest history of all the nominees. But does that mean he is guaranteed a win with “The Wolf of Wall Street”???? This movie was excellent and painful and annoying all at once. A more grimy and distasteful kind of “Good Fellas”, it gave Leonardo Di Caprio the chance to do some of his best work…because you hated him. Well,…I did!

But look at this awesomely sexy shot….tell me any guy that doesn’t want to be Leo in this picture. It’s such a perfect male fantasy picture too…the baby toys all over, yet, look at those stilettos and that hot mama that all our husbands wish we still looked like after having our kids LOL…


I don’t know if I will ever have the privilege to work with Martin, being that I am yet an unknown, but one can dream.

Martin Charles Scorsese (born November 17, 1942) is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, actor, and film historian. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest directors of all time. In 1990 he founded The Film Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to film preservation, and in 2007 he founded the World Cinema Foundation. He is a recipient of the AFI Life Achievement Award for his contributions to the cinema, and has won an Academy Award, a Palme d’OrCannes Film Festival Best Director AwardSilver LionGrammy AwardEmmysGolden GlobesBAFTAs, and DGA Awards.

Scorsese’s body of work addresses such themes as Italian American identity, Roman Catholic concepts of guilt and redemptionmachismo, modern crime and gang conflict. Many of his films are also notable for their depiction of violence and liberal use of profanity. Hailed as one of the most significant and influential filmmakers in cinema history, Scorsese has directed landmark films such as Mean Streets (1973), Taxi Driver(1976), Raging Bull (1980), and Goodfellas (1990) – all of which he collaborated on with actor and close friend Robert De Niro.

Martin Scorsese was born and raised in Queens, New York and his family moved to the Little Italy section of Manhattan before he started school. His father, Charles Scorsese (1913–1993), and mother, Catherine Scorsese (born Cappa; 1912–1997), both worked in New York’s Garment District. His father was a clothes presser and an actor, and his mother was a seamstress and an actress. His father’s parents emigrated from Polizzi Generosa, in the province of PalermoSicily, and his mother was also of Italian descent. Her parents were from Palermo. Scorsese was raised in a devoutly Catholic environment. As a boy, he had asthma and could not play sports or do any activities with other children and so his parents and his older brother would often take him to movie theaters; it was at this stage in his life that he developed passion for cinema.

His initial desire to become a priest while attending Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx gave way to cinema and consequently, Scorsese enrolled in NYU’s University College of Arts and Science, (now known as the College of Arts and Science), where he earned a B.A. in English in 1964. He went on to earn his M.F.A. from NYU’s School of the Arts (now known as the Tisch School of the Arts) in 1966, a year after the school was founded.

Scorsese’s 2013 movie, The Wolf of Wall Street, is an American biographical black comedy based on Jordan Belfort‘s memoir of the same name. The screenplay was written by Terence Winter, and starred Leonardo DiCaprio as Belfort, along with Jonah Hill and Matthew McConaughey, among others. The Wolf of Wall Street marked the fifth collaboration between Scorsese and DiCaprio and the second between Scorsese and Winter after Boardwalk Empire.

The film was released on December 25, 2013, and tells the story of a New York stockbroker, played by DiCaprio, who refuses to cooperate in a large securities fraud case involving corruption on Wall Street, stock manipulation, namely the practice of “Pump and dump” and the corporate banking world. The Wolf of Wall Street has been nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best PictureBest Actor for Leonardo DiCaprio, Best Supporting Actor for Jonah Hill, Best Director for Martin Scorsese, and Best Adapted Screenplay for Terence Winter.


Oscars 2014 – Best Animated Feature Film

What is Animation?

Animation is the process of displaying still images in a rapid sequence to create the illusion of movement. These images can be hand drawn, computer generated, or pictures of 3D objects. Though most people associate animation with cartoons, it also has applications in industrial and scientific research. Regardless of the type, the viewer’s body plays a main role in why people see continuous movement instead of a series of quickly changing images.


There are three main types of animation: traditional, stop motion, and computer generated. Each can be used to make both 2D or 3D images. There are also other less common forms, many of which focus on using an unusual medium like sand or glass to create the images, as well as combinations of live action and drawings or computer created images.


Traditional animation involves drawing every frame of a film by hand. After all the drawings are completed and colored, they can be photographed or scanned into a computer and then combined with sound on film. The process is extremely time-consuming, since it requires the creation of around 24 drawings per second of film. It’s also labor-intensive, which is why most traditionally animated films are produced by large companies.

Stop Motion

In this process, animators manipulate and photograph objects one motion and frame at a time. The objects can be almost anything, ranging from clay figures to paper cut outs to household objects. Some stop motion films use actual people, who hold specific poses for individual frames. After photographing the objects, the photos are then transferred to film and combined with sound, as with the traditional method.

Computer Generated

Animators can also use computer software to create films and models, which is generally faster than the traditional method. The characters and objects they make can be either two-dimensional or three-dimensional, but the process for creating each type is a little different. For 2D computer generated animation, the animator creates a series of images with each one very slightly different from the last, very similarly to the traditional method. To create 3D images, he or she has to make a model of the character or object. This can be done by creating animation variables, which are points on a computer model that can be moved to create a different posture or look, or by using motion capture, in which a live actor acts the part of the character and his or her motions are recorded and applied to the computer-created model.


Though most people think of animation as being used primarily for entertainment in movies, TV shows, and video games, it has many other uses. It’s commonly used in educational videos and advertisements both on TV and on the Internet, and it can also be used in the process of research and development to create simulations of how a machine or process would work. This can help designers troubleshoot problems without having to actually create the physical object. Scientists use animation as well to create visualizations of abstract concepts or objects that are too small or large to be seen easily, which is helpful both for research and for analysis.

Role of the Viewer

Animated films and models aren’t actually moving, but people see the illusion of movement because of a phenomenon called persistence of vision. In this phenomenon, the brain and eyes cooperate to store images for fractions of a second, and the brain smooths out any minor jumps or blips automatically. Since animated frames are shot at very fast rates, people generally see the movement without stoppages.

And the Nominees for Best Animated Feature are….

The Croods

A prehistoric family are forced to flee their cave after it’s destroyed by a disaster that threatens to change their lives forever in this animated adventure featuring the voices of Nicolas Cage and Emma Stone. As a protective caveman father leads his family out of harm’s way, the clan crosses paths with a resourceful teen named Guy (voice of Ryan Reynolds), who offers to help them reach a distant land where they’ll be safe from an impending catastrophe that will soon alter the entire world. (From Fandango)

Despicable Me 2

This is the only one of the nominees that I “have seen” That is to say…I took the kids to the Theatre to see it, but I was so tired that I fell asleep right after the opening credits, and slept through the first half of it. 😦

But my kids loved it 🙂

While Gru, the ex-supervillain is adjusting to family life and an attempted honest living in the jam business, a secret Arctic laboratory is stolen. The Anti-Villain League decides it needs an insider’s help and recruits Gru in the investigation. Together with the eccentric AVL agent, Lucy Wilde, Gru concludes that his prime suspect is the presumed dead supervillain, El Macho, whose his teenage son is also making the moves on his eldest daughter, Margo. Seemingly blinded by his overprotectiveness of his children and his growing mutual attraction to Lucy, Gru seems on the wrong track even as his minions are being quietly kidnapped en masse for some malevolent purpose. – Written by Kenneth Chisholm (

Ernest & Celestine

A towering bear named Ernest befriends a tiny mouse named Celestine in this gentle adaptation of the beloved children’s book by author Gabrielle Vincent. Celestine (voice of Mackenzie Foy) is an orphaned mouse who lives underground. An artist at heart, Celestine is training to become a dentist when she meets cantankerous bear Ernest (voice of Forest Whitaker), who has emerged from his remote woodland cottage in search of food, and nearly becomes his breakfast. Instead of being frightened by Ernest like most mice, however, Celestine strikes up a friendship with the misunderstood giant. Before long Ernest and Celestine are inseparable, but can their friendship last in a world where mice have been taught to fear bears, and bears have been taught never to play with their food? Lauren Bacall, Paul Giamatti, William H. Macy, Megan Mullally, Nick Offerman, and Jeffrey Wright also lend their voices to this traditionally animated children’s fantasy that was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 2014 Academy Awards. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi


This film is the front runner this year, among audiences and industry insiders alike. I am certainly hearing nothing but good things from every child AND adult I know that has seen the film.

After the kingdom of Arendelle is cast into eternal winter by the powerful Snow Queen Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel), her sprightly sister Anna (Kristen Bell) teams up with a rough-hewn mountaineer named Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and his trusty reindeer Sven to break the icy spell. Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee co-directed this Walt Disney Animation Studios production based on Hans Christian Andersen’s beloved fairy tale The Snow Queen. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

The Wind Rises

I love love love Hayao Miyazaki’s work. I was introduced to it by my husband with Spirited Away. The Wind Rises is to be his farewell piece and it has VERY good reviews. I am inclined to vote this as the winner in this category..which would be a great way to end a career, but with Disney’s marketing machine apparently pushing Frozen to the forefront, I am not so sure of its chances. But if either of them win, I would be happy.

In “The Wind Rises,” Jiro dreams of flying and designing beautiful airplanes, inspired by the famous Italian aeronautical designer Caproni. Nearsighted from a young age and unable to be a pilot, Jiro joins a major Japanese engineering company in 1927 and becomes one of the world’s most innovative and accomplished airplane designers. The film chronicles much of his life, depicting key historical events, including the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, the Great Depression, the tuberculosis epidemic and Japan’s plunge into war. Jiro meets and falls in love with Nahoko, and grows and cherishes his friendship with his colleague Honjo. Writer/director Hayao Miyazaki pays tribute to engineer Jiro Horikoshi and author Tatsuo Hori in this epic tale of love, perseverance, and the challenges of living and making choices in a turbulent world.

Oscars 2014 – Best Production Design

What is Production Design?

The production designer is responsible for the overall look of a project. 

Production design is a crucial element to any major creative project since the visual elements help bring the story to life. The look of a set or location is vital in drawing the audience into the story, and is an essential element in making a film convincing and evocative. A great deal of work and imagination goes into constructing an appropriate backdrop to any story, and into selecting or constructing appropriate locations and/or sets.

Production Designers begin work at the very early stages of pre-production. They work closely with the director and producer to determine what they’re hoping for with regard to the look of a film. The Production Designer then draws up sketches or builds conceptual models based on these conversations and upon receiving approval, hires the crew necessary to turn their imagination into reality. Production Designers direct the art department and set builders. Although the work can be very demanding and the hours long, this is one of the most highly skilled, creatively fulfilling roles within the film industry.

And the 2014 Nominees for Best Production Design are…

American Hustle


Set in the 70’s, I think this film looks EVERY BIT the time it was. From the characters’ hair and clothing to the amazing sets down to the electronics. I enjoyed this immensely. It was hilarious.

Found these interesting production design pictures on Pinterest. Enjoy!



I hate having to watch movies in 3D. I find the glasses irritating. It’s bad enough that I now have to wear glasses to read, do I really have to wear those flimsy uncomfortable things to watch a movie? Sigh! But other than that…watching this movie in 3D was totally worth it. It was an amazing experience, provoking enough fear of Space in me, not to want to ever have to be out there. What with all the Space crap that could totally ruin all my chances of survival. After all…this was just a movie. The reality would most likely be much darker. But anyway…production design on this was awesome. It looked and felt real (to a lay person like myself) and it took you there. Nice work!

Here’s an interview with Andy Nicholson, the production designer…

The Great Gatsby


Uh oh!!! Haven’t seen it yet. It’s hard to set aside 3 whole hours for a movie as a mom. But I have it on-demand now and can watch it whenever, so I will.

Judging by the posters, the trailers and many articles, it is clear that the production design on this film spared no expense to make it perfect. The homes and locations are luxuriously beautiful. The audience is instantly transported into this world with no sense of disbelief.

Just check out these pictures and see for yourself….

And in this Interview, Catherine Martin, the Oscar winning production designer of Moulin Rouge, explains her work on The Great Gatsby.




Even though this is such a “different” love story, it is such a sweet one. Set in futuristic Los Angeles, the production designer had his hands full making this look real and believable. I think he did a good job, because when I watched the film I didn’t for one minute doubt what I was seeing. And I felt totally at home in this world. And I could see myself having some fun with my personal Operating System too. 🙂

Here is an interesting article about ‘Her’ production design

12 Years a Slave

12 years a slave poster


Another period piece; starting out in upstate New York, but set in the South for the most part. The feel of the locations were real and characteristic of the time as we know well from other films and the history of that time. But I feel that the people and what they went through took us to that era more than anything. Nonetheless, the sets have that perfect Dixie history to them. In the following article, the production design of all the other places visited in the movie are discussed as well.

Article: Below the Line: Production Design on “12 Years a Slave”


Who does the Oscar go to in your opinion???

Comments are welcome 🙂


What’s your excuse???

sky diveYOU’RE never too old to be adventurous and ticking things off your bucket list.With the help of family members, Kellyville’s Paul and Lyn Conlon, who are 69 and 70 years old respectively, travelled to Wollongong to do a tandem skydive.

The couple jumped out of a plane, free falling at 200km/h before their parachute was ejected and gave them an amazing view of the south coast.

Read more…


Oscar 2014 – Best Cinematography

OOscar statuettes are displayed at the Meet the Oscars exhibit in New York

We continue our Oscar theme today, looking at the movies nominated for “looking” good…

best cinematography

First, a little education:

What is cinematography? Well, the name comes from combining two Greek words: kinema, which means movement, and graphein, which means to record. In film, cinematography refers to the photographing of the movie itself. The person in charge of this is the cinematographer, also known as the director or photography or the DP.

Understanding Cinematography

In the hierarchy of a film set, the director’s two key creative people in the crew are the art director and the cinematographer. The art director is in charge of the art department and the cinematographer is in charge of the camera, electric and grip departments. The camera department maintains the camera and has it ready for the shot while the grips and electrics handle the lighting. Electrics set the lights and run power to them and grips shape the light by using flags and diffusion. Grips also provide support to camera department when there is camera movement for the scene. An example of this is a dolly shot. The cinematographer is one of the most important people that will be hired for a film. The visual look of the film is heavily dependent on him.


And here are the nominees:

The Grandmaster

I have not seen this film yet, but based on the trailer, it looks beautiful and artistic, so I can understand why it is a nominee. The trailer I saw was in Chinese, so I could not understand a word, but the look of it was enough to pull me in and make me want to see this film. I also love the woman kicking butt part, but that has nothing to do with cinematography 🙂


Another great “woman victory” movie!!! I love it! I saw this film in 3D…which you absolutely have to do to get the full effect. I am not really a fan of 3D, but this is well worth it. A definite contender in this category. Space looks and feels real. Scary! And Sandra Bullock totally rocks!!! 🙂

Inside Llewyn Davis

Although I am a fan of the Coen brothers, I confess I have not seen this film, but from the trailer one can see the very artsy look and feel of it. Of course I am not as technical as a seasoned cinematographer might be, but it looks really well shot to me. You can see the very specific choice the Coens made in the way this film looks, in order to match it to this story featuring folk music. It totally makes sense. And did I mention, I really like Justin Timberlake 🙂


I saw this touching movie with my husband recently. It brings home the reality of how age creeps into your immediate family. A marriage that has lasted years…and do we know why? Secrets that may be inside a man, that may now, never be told. And us, ‘children’, now adults…trying to figure our parents out and to do right by them. It’s a very sweet tale, definitely an actors movie, but an interestingly sober choice to have it in black and white, which makes for an interesting look into the very ordinary lives of these people. Had it been shot in color, the effect would not have been the same.


I absolutely adore Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, love Terence Howard and am in awe of Viola Davis, but I did not enjoy this film. It made me angry for much of it, but that is not what this is about, and besides it did quite well at the box office. Cinematographically speaking (is there such a word?) It did look good. And there was very good use of the surroundings in the nice suburban neighborhood, making for nice composition and interesting lighting. Yeah, not my favorite movie, but it does look good


Let me know your favorite picks and why. Let’s get an interesting conversation going here 🙂

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