A Dog’s Purpose (PG for peril and mature themes) Three-time Oscar-nominee Lasse Hallstrom directed this adaptation of W. Bruce Cameron’s fantasy novel of the same name about an anthropomorphic, reincarnating pooch (Josh Gad) that uncovers the meaning of life with the help of a series of owners. With Dennis Quaid, Peggy Lipton and Britt Robertson.
Gold (R for sexuality, nudity and pervasive profanity) Unlikely-buddies drama about a down on his luck businessman (Matthew McConaughey) who joins forces with a geologist (Edgar Ramirez) to search for gold bullion in the jungles of Borneo. With Bryce Dallas Howard, Stacy Keach and Bruce Greenwood.
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (R for pervasive violence) Sci-fi horror series’ swan song written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson and starring his wife, Milla Jovovich. Post-apocalyptic adventure finds the fearless heroine forming an alliance with the hadnful of human survivors for one last stand against the undead. With Ali Larter, Iain Glen, Williams Levy and Ruby Rose.
INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS
Behemoth (Unrated) Eco-documentary illustrating the devastating toll exacted by mining on China’s population and landscape. (In Mandarin with subtitles)
The Daughter (Unrated) Adaptation of “The Wild Duck,” Henrik Ibsen’s classic play revolving around a man (Paul Schneider) who uncovers a dark family secret when he returns home to attend his father’s (Geoffrey Rush) wedding. Featuring Nicholas Hope, Sam Neill and Ewen Leslie.
Getthe Girl (R for pervasive profanity, graphic violence, drug use and brief nudity and sexuality) Action comedy about a wealthy guy (Justin Dobies) who attempts to impress the object of his affection (Elizabeth Whitson) by coming to her rescue during a fake kidnapping, only to have the stunt go horribly wrong. Support cast includes Daniel Quinn, Adi Shankar, Noah Segan and Scout Taylor-Compton.
I Am Michael (Unrated) James Franco plays the title character in this biopic about Michael Glatze, a gay activist who claimed to be cured of homosexuality after turning to Christianity. With Emma Roberts, Daryl Hannah and Zachary Quinto.
Kung-Fu Yoga (Unrated) Jackie Chan stars in this action comedy as an archaeology professor who embarks with a young protege (Amyra Dastur) on a globe-trotting adventure in search of a lost Indian treasure. With Disha Patani, Aarif Rahman and Sonu Sood.
Massacre on Aisle 12 (Unrated) Horror comedy about a hardware store clerk (Michael Buonomo) whose first day on the job is ruined by the discovery of a dead body and a duffel bag stuffed with cash. Cast includes Chad Ridgely, Jim Klock and Doug Burch.
The Salesman (PG-13 for mature themes and a brief bloody image) Crime thriller, set in Tehran, about an Iranian couple (Taraneh Alidoosti and Shahab Hosseini), appearing in a local production of Death of a Salesman, whose relationship is tested when the wife is raped right after they move into a new apartment. With Babak Karimi, Mina Sadati and Emad Emami. (In Persian with subtitles)
Un Padre No Tan Padre (PG-13 for profanity, drug use and partial nudity) Dysfunctional family comedy about a cranky 85 year-old (Hector Bonilla) forced to move into his long-estranged son’s (Benny Ibarra) hippie commune after getting kicked out of his retirement home. Support cast includes Zamia Fandino, Camila Selser and Eduardo Tanus. (In Spanish with subtitles)
The Millennials Favorite Friend is Not a “New Face”
by Amy Lignor
Everywhere you look – most especially when it comes to the world of digital marketing – the key group to target for sales in 2017 is a group called the “millennials.” Millennials represent that demographic which follows behind Generation X, and as far as advertisers and 90% of the companies out there right now are concerned, their profits begin and end with what the millennials want. In fact, they are the largest generation in the U.S., representing one-third of the total population.
The headline that ran the Internet just recently may sound a bit odd, considering how old the character is behind it, but among millennials, the “Most Intimate Brand” was announced as being none other than Disney.
This MLBM study is all about consumer emotions and how emotions are utilized when connecting consumers to brands. The strongest bond for consumers comes from that dutiful, reliable Mickey Mouse that, no matter how much time goes by and no matter what bad things happen in the world, has remained the most trustworthy, honest “friend” people can have.
This Branding Agency had a number of factors that went into their study. From character and strength of the bond to the nostalgia consumers have for a brand; from how the brand exceeds consumer expectations to the degree to which consumers feel connected and committed to it – after putting all of these factors together, it was announced that Disney resonates with millennials. This is one company that has kept up with constantly changing interests, now including popular franchises from Star Wars to Marvel. It also allows people to “escape” from the bad times into a world where a castle still lights up as Tinkerbell waves her wand around its spires.
There are many limbs of the Disney Company, and one that touches many hearts comes in the form of saving wildlife. Many people do not know that Disney has a conservation grant-making program, with a huge focus on all the critters out there that need help. Not really a surprise when you consider the fact that Simba and Dumbo are two beloved names Disney built a billion-dollar-realm around.
Hundreds of grants are made by Disney to help wildlife. Since 1995, the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund has been giving out these grants every year, with the total running into the twenty-five-million-plus range. These dollars have been put to tremendous use to protect the dwindling elephant population, and the saving and building of new, safe habitats for rhinos, primates, birds and even sea turtles. Helping out in Africa, China, India, South America – the list goes on when it comes to saving the animals, which helps Disney even more as they secure the number one slot with millennials.
Furthering the Disney brand are the myriad of awards given to their theme parks, resorts and even cruise ships that remain clean and respectable. Travelers still fill the Disney parks that keep offering new sights and sounds every time you turn around.
In other words, no matter what “new technology” appears on the market, or what new company creates and makes millions of the latest “it” device, in the end a company that began from pure imagination and love – with a mouse at the helm – still holds their head higher than all the rest.
Hanks Reprises Role as Crime-Solving Symbologist in Latest Adaptation of Dan Brown Thriller
Dan Brown is the author of a quartet of best-selling mysteries featuring Harvard Professor Robert Langdon as the protagonist. The phenomenally-popular novels have sold over 100 million copies and counting, with the fifth in the series slated to be released in the fall of 2017.
Screen versions of the first two Robert Langdon books, The Da Vinci Code (2006) and Angels & Demons (2009), netted over a billion dollars at the box office. So, it’s no surprise that another adaptation might be in order.
Inferno reunites director Ron Howard with Tom Hanks who reprises his lead role as a genius with an uncanny knack for deciphering ancient symbols and religious iconography. And Howard enlisted the assistance of a stellar support cast which includes Ben Foster, Felicity Jones, Irrfan Khan and Omar Sy.
Inferno is easily the most successful of the offerings, as it reins in Langdon’s earliertendency to overindulgence in inscrutable jargon. This go round, the intellectual badinage has been minimized to make way for a flurry of visually-captivating action sequences.
Another plus is the easy to follow plotline. The point of departure is a hospital in Florence, Italy which is where we find Langdon suffering from amnesia yet lucky to be alive given how a bullet to the head only grazed his scalp.
Before we even have a chance to blink, a gun-toting assassin (Ana Ularu) arrives to finish the job. Fortunately, Langdon’s gorgeous doctor, Sienna Brooks (Jones), not only helps him escape on the spot, but is prepared to abandon her practice to go on the run with her traumatized patient.
As it turns out, the hit woman was part of a much larger conspiracy. For, she was merely doing the bidding of Bertrand Zobrist (Foster), an evil billionaire on the verge of hatching a disturbing solution for the world’s overpopulation problem. Essentially, the madman’s plan is to unleash a lethal virus designed to kill half the people on the planet in less than a week.
That sets the stage for Langdon and Sienna’s dizzying race against time to unearth a cornucopia of clues enabling them to track down and disarm the diabolical Zobrist. That in a nutshell is the sum and substance of Inferno, except for a humdinger of a twist it would be unfair to spoil.
Easily, the most accessible, engaging, entertaining and cinematic adaptation of a Dan Brown thriller yet!
Very Good (3 stars)
RatedPG-13 for action, violence, profanity, disturbing images, mature themes and brief sensuality
In English, French and Italian with subtitles
Running time: 121 minutes
Distributor: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Extras: Deleted and extended scenes; Ron Howard: A Director’s Journal; A Look at Langdon; The Billionaire Villain: Bertrand Zobrist; This Is Sienna Brooks; Inferno around the World; and Vision of Hell.
A native of New York City, Vin Diesel is one of Hollywood’s hottest movie stars. In addition to his huge box-office success, Vin is a prominent producer and filmmaker and has been honored with both a Hands and Footprint Ceremony at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre as well as a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Furious 7, which he starred in and produced, grossed more than $1.5 billion in worldwide box-office and is the #1 grossing film in China’s history. In 2013, he starred in and produced the box-office smash hit Fast & Furious 6, which grossed almost $800 million worldwide.
He is also set to star in the highly-anticipated The Fate of the Furious which will be in theaters on April 14th and in Disney’s Guardians of the Galaxy 2 which will be released in May. Here, Vin talks about reprising the title role in xXx: Return of Xander Cage.
Kam Williams: Hey Vin, thanks for the time.
Vin Diesel: Yo, Kam, what’s up?
KW: Not much.
VD: What happened, bro? I thought you were going to be here today?
KW: Couldn’t make it into the city, so I have to do the interview by phone. You know, I was just talking to my brother who mentioned that he taught your nephew Tyler who graduated from Brooklyn Friends School last year. He said he’s a great kid that everybody loved.
VD: Oh, that’s so dope! Small world, Kam.
KW: He said that they’re all big fans of yours, too. You did sequels to Pitch Black and The Fast and the Furious, but previously declined when it came to the xXx franchise. What made you finally decide to reprise the role of Xander Cage?
VD: The reason I declined in 2002 was sort of a silly reason. The studio had promised me that I was going to be able to direct Hannibal, and they wanted me to do xXx 2 before Hannibal. But the script wasn’t strong enough for me to do that. It had become something other than xXx. It was more like Three Days of the Condor without the fun of xXx. But, in truth, a large part of my decision was based on my feeling that I had been promised that I would be able to direct Hannibal the Conqueror. After I produced the fourth Fast and Furious film, and saw the success of that, I was inspired and challenged by the idea of creating these sagas, these franchises. It took about another seven years to get it right. so, it was about 2009 when I made the decision to do it, and it took from that time ’til now to realize it.
KW: Well, it was worth the wait, because it really brings you back to the original xXx in terms of the special f/x and the stunts. I also love how the dialogue is laced with all those double entendres reminiscent of 007.
VD: [Laughs] Totally! It is America’s answer to James Bond, for sure.
KW: It even has a bevy of beauties in Deepika Padukone, Ruby Rose, Nina Dobrev, Hermione Corfeld and more, xXx’s equivalent of Bond girls.
VD: I remember when we were in production. there were some articles written saying that this was the best cast ever assembled. It’s so eclectic. The women are so strong and formidable and beautiful. They kick ass in their own right. And then it’s novel and cool that this is a multi-cultural, global cast from different film markets from all over the world. It marks the start of Hollywood venturing beyond the confines of Hollywood to recruit talent. We now have a global audience. It is no longer the case that we’re just making movies for America. Now, we’re making movies for the world. So, why not invite celebrated talent from those respective markets into your global film?
KW: And they all mesh seamlessly, here. I’ve seen my share of movies with international casts where there’s no chemistry.
VD: That’s fair to say, Kam.
KW: But you’ve pulled it off successfully.
VD: Yeah, it’s exciting. Thank you.
KW: Vin, what would you say was your biggest challenge in returning to the role of xXx?
VD: Time! these other studios can get very Mafia. Universal never wanted me to make this movie. They would just love to keep the golden goose at Universal, and just keep turning out their billion-dollar franchise, from my being the brainchild of it, to then going on set and producing and acting in it. So, it really was a matter of time where I had one little window of opportunity at the beginning of 2016 where I could go make the movie. And we just went for it! To be 100% honest, that how Hollywood is nowadays. Most people don’t realize that. These studios can be very proprietary.
KW: Really? I had no idea. I thought the studio system ended back in the Forties.
VD: You wouldn’t think it, because Universal would never admit it. I’m not their movie star. I’m their George Lucas. I’m the person creating the saga through many, many pictures. But they’ll never tell you that. They’ll pretend that I’m just coming to the set and driving cars. They’re not going to acknowledge that I’m also the one who’s creating this full, intricate saga, and DMing it over the years. Anybody that’s on the inside would tell you that. Hollywood can get ruthless. I just shared some of the inside scoop, since I’ve known you for a long time. But that’s how Mafia this is.
KW: Thanks. You know who else was great in this movie? Tony Gonzalez, the former NFL star.
VD: Wasn’t he good? He’d never acted before. This was his first feature film. You’re talking about one of the best football players in history, and he walks onto the set and just kills it! Tony Gonzalez was incredible. He enhanced the picture.
He brought something to the table. His work ethic was dope! And when he wasn’t filming, you’d find him standing around the set trying to learn everything he could.You could see what a winner he is, and why he was a winner in his field.
KW: I think he was even a star basketball player in college.
VD: He was! When you have that dedication it shows. He did not hold anything back. I’m so proud of what he accomplished.
KW: The rest of the cast was good, too.
VD: I’m proud of all of them. Hey, I’m gonna share this text from my sister [Samantha Vincent] only with you, Kam, since I know you so damn long. She produced this picture, and produces the Fast & Furious franchise. Hold on a second, man…Here it is. She goes: “Seriously, in all my years working with you, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a unified, hard-working cast. It’s literally the most hopeful, open, optimistic, present group of people ever.” That’s from my sister who’s always on the set and producing all these movies. Ain’t that hot?
KW: Absolutely! Thanks for the exclusive, Vin. Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you’d like to star in?
VD: Oh my God! Just hearing you ask that makes me think of a bunch of remakes I’d love to do. It Happened One Night… On the Waterfront’s is one of my all-time favorite films. And there’s something to be said for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. I’d love to put a multi-cultural spin on all those movies.
KW: Ling-Ju Yen asks: What is your earliest childhood memory?
VD: Well, the first movie I remember was a picture called The Thief of Baghdad. It was directed by Michael Powell and starred an Indian actor named Sabu. When I was a kid, we couldn’t afford to got to concerts or Broadway plays. That was way out of our price league. But we could go to the movies. we’d go to 42nd Street, and share a $1.50 bowl of chicken lo mein before going to see a movie. Since we lived in Manhattan, we’d walk home afterwards. And while walking home, my father would always break down the movie we just saw. He started doing this when I was just 5 years-old. that gave me the ability to be a producer. As you know, before I did Saving Private Ryan, I directed Multi-Facial and Strays. I would never have gotten Private Ryan if I hadn’t made those movies. And in some ways, I never stopped directing.
KW: The Viola Davis question: What’s the biggest difference between who you are at home as opposed to the person we see on the red carpet?
VD: Wow! That’s a great question. When I’m at home, I’m just Daddy. I’m at peace, and not self-aware at all. On the red carpet, I’m a commodity. I realize that, for that moment, I belong to the world, in a way. I try to maintain my truth and my individuality, but I’m mindful that anything I do or say could easily be misconstrued. They’re two very different worlds. I don’t even know if I could articulate just how different they are in one conversation. The person I am at home is so at peace. But even my family knows that once I go out those doors I belong to the world.
KW: I would guess that you have to be even more careful about what you say and protective of your privacy between the 24-hour news cycle and the snarkiness of internet trolls. .
VD: Yeah! Who the hell knew we were going to have to become governors of ourfan base, and have to manage so much social media, and decide what you’re going to share. A decade ago all this didn’t exist. Now, you’ll find Samuel L. Jackson feeding his social media.
KW: I’m glad you brought him back for this sequel.
VD: I had to. Sam was just to important to me and to the franchise. After I signed to headline the first xXx, one of the proudest moments of my life was when I heard he was coming aboard to co-star. I felt such a huge sense of validation. And the pride he took in the project gave me the faith and the confidence to keep going in this industry.
KW: This movie has a number of great twists that it would be unfair for us to spoil.
VD: Yeah, the twists are fun. You can go to the movie and have a blast, but there is also a message after the dust settles.
KW: Lastly, as Samuel L. Jackson asks in the commercial, what’s in your wallet?
VD: I don’t even have my wallet with me. I’m not joking! I’m just one of those kids that’s just all creativity. My mind is just focused on creativity.
KW: Thanks again for the time, Vin, and best of luck with this film .
VD: Always good to talk to you, Kam.
KW: I look forward to chatting with you about Fast & Furious 8 in the spring.
VD: Next time, come over here, man, and let’s do a face-to-face.
Sunshine, Warm Weather and New Skeeter Boats, at the Miami Boat Show
By Craig Lamb
Getting to see shiny new boats at a boat show is a given. What’s not is getting to take a test ride, and do it in sunny, warm weather. You can do it all at the 2017 Progressive Insurance Miami International Boat Show.
This year’s event, conveniently scheduled during President’s Day weekend, is Feb. 16-20. The show has a new home at the Miami Marine Stadium Park & Basin on Biscayne Bay. The location on Virginia Key is easy to get to by land and water.
Shake the winter blues and head to Miami to get your boating season on at the show. Skeeter Boats will have six of its bay boat models on display at the show, with a bonus. The SX240 and SX2250 will be available for on-water demonstrations and test rides.
Dealer reps and factory experts will be on hand to meet, greet and help visitors turn their dream into reality of enjoying an ultimate day on the bay and elsewhere.
The inlets and shallow water connecting to Biscayne Bay make a perfect setting for taking a ride in the SX240, the ultimate coastal boat that is loaded with everything a discriminating angler needs.
The SX240 demo boat is rigged with the powerful and performance-driven Yamaha F300XCA, the next generation of V6 4.2L offshore outboards. Feel the power of leading time-to-plane, class-leading displacement and see for yourself how this class of outboards has groundbreaking fuel economy.
The SX240, 24’ 1” in length with a beam of 101,” comes loaded with these standard features. A Lowrance HDS-9 Gen3 Touch Graph, Seastar Tilt Hydraulic Steering, 17 vertical rod holders, a retractable boarding ladder and an aluminum frame trailer with swing out tongue make this the complete rig for inshore boating.
The demo waters also make the perfect place to experience the performance and fishability of the SX2250. This rig designed for making nimble, high speed turns in the backcountry to handling the chop out in the bay.
The SX2250 comes loaded will all of the standard features of the SX240, including the trailer, which on many bay boats is an option. With the SX250 you get the peace of mind that comes with the reliability of Skeeter, from the driveway to the water.
From stem to stern the SX240 and SX2250 are designed and built on the foundation of nearly seven decades of innovations to the business delivered by Skeeter.
There will be plenty of boats to see and much to do. More than 1,300 boats on land and docked within 550-plus slips, including a deep-water basin for yachts, will greet visitors. There’s a closed and open-air tented exhibit space for marine accessories, electronics, engines, and apparel.
The show address is 3501 Rickenbacker Causeway in Miami. Water taxis, shuttle buses and adequate parking for vehicles and boats will be available.
In the meantime, get your boat show fix at skeeterboats.com. You can download a catalog, build your dream rig, and get Skeeter Team merchandise to wear to the shows. Got a question? They’ve got answers at the Skeeter factory in Kilgore, Texas. Call (903) 984-0541, or find the nearest dealer here.
Works of art actually relieve stress. Not only are we all experiencing that, but headlines have appeared that state this election year was the most stressful on record. Marriages actually broke down and broke apart all together because of this political agenda. So now that all of this is over and done with, taking a vacation from it all would be the best thing to alleviate that stress as fast as possible. Of course, seeing as that only 5% of the population or less can actually afford a trip like that, perhaps reading about these incredible (and very large) works of art could at least make the imagination run enough to be swept away from the stress for a time. So…ask yourself this question: If you could witness the most beautiful, incredible buildings ever created on this planet, where, exactly, would you go?
Well, let us begin in a world where beauty and politics actually came together. It is a fact that on the steps of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece, many politicians met on a daily basis to debate, fight and make the citizens want to pull their hair out. But for us, in 2017, this building is truly the highest standard of beauty. The slight curve of those Corinthian columns, sitting atop that hill, is a stunning sight to behold and literally remains the base of perfect architecture.
Traveling on to Spain, the Museo Guggenheim is one of a kind. Set in the northern city of Bilbao, the interconnecting blocks and sheets of titanium make this a classic and thrilling industrial design. Go inside and you’ll even get a glance at some of the most amazing works of art on the planet.
Moving away from industrialism, yet staying in the beauty that Spain has to offer, you can head to a church that rises above the rest. Sagrada Familia was born in the brilliant mind of one of the most unconventional designers in all of history: Antoni Gaudí. Construction commenced in 1882 and, oddly enough, is not scheduled to be completed until 2026 when the 100th anniversary of Gaudí’s death is celebrated. It was this particular artist’s vision that was so intricate that by the time this huge Roman Catholic Church is finished it will sport three facades and eighteen towers, with the highest set to represent Jesus Christ. However, no matter what building stage this church is in, the beauty and grandeur that can be witnessed is overpowering.
As everyone knows, Egypt has a wealth of architecture and sites that boggle the mind. However, the ancient pyramids are not, in many peoples’ eyes, the best of the best when it comes to stunning architecture. It is actually a “new” building that pays homage to an ancient building that people wish with all their hearts still existed – especially in regards to what treasures it once held. The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a combination library and cultural center located on the shore of the Mediterranean in the city of Alexandria. It has been described as looking like a giant discus that alit on the ground at an angle, and is arguably the first stunning creation of the new millennium, being completed in 2002. With a vast rotunda that could hold eight million books, Cleopatra and the incredible Hypatia of Alexandria (if you want a good story, read up on her), would be more than proud.
Another piece of architecture that comes with an incredible backstory that includes everything from a mad monk to a mysterious room that was never found yet held treasures that would be truly priceless today, is the Winter Palace in Russia. Known as the core of the State Hermitage Museum, this literal palace on the banks of the Neva River in St. Petersburg came from the brilliant mind of Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli. The Russian tsars loved this odd pistachio-colored structure and used it as their winter residence. Filling an entire block, call up some pictures and let your imagination run wild with this one. So many stories, mysteries and historical secrets; if only those walls could talk…
If extra time is left over for this stress-free escape to the various corners of the earth, add in a stop to Syria and stand before a true medieval castle that’s 800 years old. Crac des Chevaliers stands proud and tall, looking like it weathered time even better than Elizabeth Taylor did. A mini-town can be found as you cross over the moat dug out of the rock and enter the thick outer walls. A chapel, a Great Hall – all Gothic things survive and thrive, making it look as if the Crusaders only moved out yesterday.
There are many other great architectural landmarks to be seen and coveted. So take the time for an “Imagination Vacation” in order to take a deep breath before going back to the always fun world of “reality.”
Sportfishing Industry Angered by Last-Minute U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ Director’s Order
New U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service policy on lead fishing tackle blindsides recreational fishing community
On the day before President Obama left office, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued an edict to phase out the use of traditional fishing tackle on the hundreds of thousands of square miles of public lands under its management.
Director’s Order No. 219 will, “require the use of nontoxic ammunition and fishing tackle to the fullest extent practicable for all activities on Service lands, waters and facilities by January 2022, except as needed for law enforcement or health and safety uses, as provided for in policy.”
Scott Gudes, vice president of Government Affairs for the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), the trade association that represents the recreational fishing industry, issued a statement of behalf of the industry. “The sportfishing industry views this unilateral policy to ban lead fishing tackle, which was developed without any input from the industry, other angling organizations and state fish and wildlife agencies, as a complete disregard for the economic and social impact it will have on anglers and the recreational fishing industry,” said Gudes.
Gudes further said, “In the limited instances where lead fishing tackle is demonstrated to harm local wildlife populations, the sportfishing industry supports actions to minimize or eliminate these impacts. However, unnecessary and sweeping bans such as this Director’s Order will do nothing to benefit wildlife populations and instead will penalize the nation’s 46 million anglers and hurt recreational fishing-dependent jobs.”
Gudes concluded, “A sound, science-driven and durable policy could’ve been crafted with input from industry and the broader recreational fishing community. We are hopeful that new leadership at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will repeal this Director’s Order and develop public policy in a way that is open, inclusive and based on science.”
La La Lands Record-Tying 14 Academy Award Nominations
Academy Also Embraces Diversity
After winning a record number of Golden Globes, it’s no surprise that La La Land might garner a record-tying 14 Oscar nominations. Damien Chazelle’s enchanting homage to the Hollywood musical is up for Academy Awards in the Best Picture, Director, Lead Actor (Ryan Gosling), Lead Actress (Emma Stone), Song, Original Screenplay, Original Score and other categories.
The Academy also embraced diversity this year, nominating 7 actors of color: Denzel Washington and Viola Davis for Fences, Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris for Moonlight, Octavia Spencer for Hidden Figures, Ruth Negga for Loving and Dev Patel for Lion. Moonlight, the Golden Globe-winning Best Drama about growing up gay in the ‘hood, landed 8 nominations in all, including Barry Jenkins’ for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Perennial nominee Meryl Streep made history with her 20th nomination for Florence Foster Jenkins, and director Ava DuVernay, overlooked by Oscar for Selma a year ago, was recognized this time around in the Best Documentary category for 13th. The Academy Awards are set to air live on ABC-TV on Sunday, February 26th at 8:30 pm ET. The show will be staged at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood and hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.
Complete List of Academy Award Nominations
Best Picture “Arrival” “Fences” “Hacksaw Ridge” “Hell or High Water” “Hidden Figures” “La La Land” “Lion”
“Manchester by the Sea” “Moonlight”
Lead Actor Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea” Andrew Garfield, “Hacksaw Ridge” Ryan Gosling, “La La Land,” Viggo Mortensen, “Captain Fantastic” Denzel Washington, “Fences”
Lead Actress Isabelle Huppert, “Elle” Ruth Negga, “Loving” Natalie Portman, “Jackie” Emma Stone, “La La Land” Meryl Streep, “Florence Foster Jenkins”
Supporting Actor Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight” Jeff Bridges, “Hell or High Water” Lucas Hedges, “Manchester by the Sea” Dev Patel, “Lion” Michael Shannon, “Nocturnal Animals”
“America is in trouble, and a lot of that trouble–perhaps most of it–has to do with race. Everywhere we turn, there is discord, division, death and destruction.
When we survey the land, we see a country full of suffering that it cannot fully understand, and a history that it can no longer deny. Slavery casts a long shadow across our lives…
Black and white people… seem to occupy different universes with worldviews that are fatally opposed to one another… What, then, can we do?
What I need to say can only be said as a sermon… I offer this sermon to you, my dear white friends… I do so in the interest of healing our our nation through honest, often blunt, talk… Without white America wrestling with these truths and confronting these realities, we may not survive.
To paraphrase the Bible, to whom much is given, much is expected. And, you my friends, have been given so much. And the Lord knows, what wasn’t given, you simply took, took, and took, and took.
But the time is here for reckoning with the past… and moving together to redeem the nation for the future.”
— Excerpted from the Chapter 1, “Call to Worship” (pages 3-7)
Michael Eric Dyson teaches Sociology at Georgetown University, and is the prolific author of 20 best-sellers and a popular face on the TV talk show circuit. Many might forget that Professor Dyson got his doctorate in Religion from Princeton University.
In his new book, Tears We Cannot Stop, he reminds us that, “Although I am a scholar, a cultural and political critic, and a social activist, I am, before, and above anything else, an ordained Baptist minister.” That helps explain the profusion of captivating, flowery rhetoric whenever the brother’s been handed a microphone.
While his previous works were aimed at a black audience, this is his first intended to be read by whites. It is also written in a unique literary style, namely, as a sermon designed to keep Caucasians standing on their feet like an inspiredcongregation of holy rollers.
The chapters are even laid out like a church service, starting with the “Call to Worship,” followed by “Hymns
Author: Michael Eric Dyson
of Praise,” an “Invocation,” and the “Scripture Reading” leading to the “Sermon,” and concluding with the “Benediction.” The meat of the message can be found in the Sermon section which opens with the iconoclastic suggestion that there is no such thing as a white race.
Professor Dyson’s point there is that whiteness is an arbitrary (as opposed to a scientific) construct which affords one group advantages and privileges at the expense of others. He argues that “whiteness is made up, and that white history disguised as American history is a fantasy, as much a fantasy as white superiority and white purity.”
If I were Dyson, I wouldn’t be holding my breath for a positive reception from his intended audience, given the ascension of Donald Trump and the celebration of rednecks in the runaway best seller, Hillbilly Elegy. He might be better off redirecting his sermon to the African-American community and changing his incendiary opus’ subtitle to “Preaching to the Choir!”