Oscar nods to films based on books


This year's Academy Award nominations include 5 out of 9 best pictures that are based on books, all of them non-fiction.

Have a read while you await the award show on March 2 (and don't miss AADL's Academy Awards Preview on Wednesday, February 26 at 7 pm at the Downtown Library).

12 years a slave based on the book by Solomon Northrup
American Hustle based on the book, the Sting Man: inside Abscam
Captain Phillips based on the book, A Captain's Duty by Richard Phillips
Wolf of Wall Street based on the book of the same name by Jordan Belfort
Philomena based on the book Philomena : a mother, her son, and a fifty-year search by Martin Sixsmith

Other award nominated movies based on books include:
Inside Llewelyn Davis based on the book Mayor of Macdougal Street : a memoir (nominated for cinematography & sound mixing)
Lone Survivor based on the book Lone survivor : the eyewitness account of Operation Redwing and the lost heroes of SEAL Team 10 (nominated for sound mixing)
Dirty Wars based on the book Dirty wars : the world is a battlefield (nominated for best documentary feature)

Lastly one play to film was nominated:
August: Osage County by Tracy Letts (Meryl Streep is nominated for best actress & Julia Roberts for best supporting actress)

20 Feet From Stardom

Last summer I boasted about the wonderful documentary, 20 Feet From Stardom, that my nephew, Jason Zeldes, edited. Today it was nominated for an Oscar. It's simply impossible to sit still when you hear these remarkable women sing!

Jon Stewart's movie based on this book


If you are a fan of the Daily Show, you probably know that host, Jon Stewart, has been in post-production on his movie directorial debut, Rosewater. But did you know that it is based on the book, Then they came for me : a family's story of love, captivity, and survival by Canadian-Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari ? It is a harrowing story of imprisonment for over 100 days in Iran's notorious Evin Prison and the brutal interrogation he endured. One of the most bizarre reasons he was imprisoned was for an 'interview' he had with Daily Show correspondent Jason Jones who was pretending to be a spy (Jones plays himself in the movie). The segment called Behind the Veil: Minarets of Menace can be found on the Daily Show's website here. According to Bahari's interrogators, this was proof he was making plans to overthrow their government. Bahari later stated that the captors knew it was satire but were looking for anything to keep him locked up. An excellent interview between Jones and Bahari after his release can be found here. Award winning Mexican actor, Gael Garcia Bernal will be portraying Bahari in the movie.

Golden Globes 2014

Last night, amidst the glitz and glamour that is Hollywood at its most celebratory, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association hosted the 71st Golden Globe Awards which recognize the best that movies and television have to offer.

Hosted again by the popular duo Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, more than two dozen prizes were received with the usual mix of speeches that ran the gamut from eloquent to a stunned scrambling for coherence, from blink-and-you'll-miss-it brevity to gassiness that shouted over the 'stop, you're done' musical cues from the orchestra.

Among the winners were:

12 Years a Slave for Best Motion Picture, Drama -- based on the 1853 memoir of Solomon Northup who was born a freeman in New York and then captured and enslaved in New Orleans.

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama went to Cate Blanchett for her mesmerizing portrayal of a New York socialite who has lost it all and is forced to move in with her working-poor sister in San Francisco in Blue Jasmine, directed by Woody Allen, who took heat last night from his family and foes via Twitter, when he accepted a Lifetime Achievement award later in the evening.

Amy Poehler got to switch roles when she captured the category of Best Actress in a TV Series, Musical or Comedy for her portrayal of Leslie Knope in the NBC hit series, Parks and Recreation.

Check out the complete list of winners here.

Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads: Present and Past

On Tuesday, January 21, from 7-9 pm at Washtenaw Community College, Morris Lawrence Building, Ruta Sepetys, author of Between Shades of Gray, this year's AA/Ypsi Reads selection, discusses her book as well as signs copies. (With doors opening at 6 pm.)

But you can explore previous AA/Ypsi Reads authors right now. Our online Video Collection includes the AA/Ypsi Reads lectures from Jonathan Weiner, author of the 2006 selection The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Own Time, William Poy Lee, author of the 2008 selection The Eighth Promise: An American Son's Tribute to His Toisanese Mother, Timothy Ferris, author of the 2009 selection Seeing in the Dark: How Amateur Astronomers are Discovering the Wonders of the Universe, Jerry Dennis, author of the 2010 selection The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas, and Richard Glaubman, co-author of the 2011 selection Life is So Good.

There are also audio podcasts featuring interviews with Timothy Ferris, Jerry Dennis, and Richard Glaubman.

And if you're looking to expand your AA/Ypsi Reads horizons beyond the authors, check out the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads Video Collection Page containing related lectures and discussions from the past nine years.

Blast from the Past: 'Eight is Enough'

Maybe it’s because I was an only child, but as a kid in the late '70s and early '80s Eight is Enough was my favorite TV show. I was devastated when it was cancelled after it’s 5th season in 1981.

Eight is Enough, originally based on the life and memoir of the same name by Thomas Braden, was a family comedy/drama about Tom, his wife Joan, and their eight children, David, Mary, Joanie, Susan, Nancy, Elizabeth, Tommy, and Nicholas, living in Sacramento, CA. Actress Diana Hyland played Joan, but the actress became ill and tragically died shortly after the first episode aired. The entire show was retooled and Tom Bradford became a widower.

Abby, played by Broadway star Betty Buckley became Tom's love interest in season two. Son Tommy, played by Willie Ames became a teen idol and would later appear on the Scott Baio vehicle Charles in Charge. The brightest star to emerge from Eight is Enough didn't arrive until the final season: Ralph Macchio caused hearts to go pitter pat when he debuted as Abby’s troubled nephew Jeremy. Check out seasons one and two at AADL. Seasons three and four are on order!

Run Run Shaw, movie director, has died

Run Run Shaw, creator of a mammoth movie empire in China and Hong Kong and considered the father of martial arts movies, died Tuesday in Hong Kong.

He and his brother, Run Me Shaw made their first successful film in 1924 in China. Three years later, the political strife in China forced the brothers to move to Singapore, where they continued to produce one money-making film after another.

Next stop, thanks to the invasion of the Malay Peninsula by the Japanese, was Hong Kong where they established their martial arts movie street cred, first with the 'dragon lady' genre, and then with Five Fingers of Death, 1973 (on order)

The Shaw Brothers' movie house empire expanded to the U.S. where their fortunes continued to grow until a serious miscalculation. They rejected Bruce Lee's offer of a contract for several films. Raymond Chow a former Shaw employee, jumped at the chance to work with Lee and the rest is history.

In 1977, Queen Elizabeth knighted him for his philanthropy which benefited orphanages, hospitals, and universities in England, Singapore, and China.

One of his biggest successes was the 1982 science fiction hit, Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott, and starring Harrison Ford and Sean Young.

Mr. Shaw was 106.

In A World… on DVD & Blu-ray

In a world... where you can check out DVDs at the library... comes an original film that will make you laugh. In In A World... A struggling vocal coach looks to make it big in the world of male dominated movie trailer voiceovers. She uses her talent and takes on her father, who is the reigning top voiceover performer, and his competitive protégé.

The film is hilarious and Lake Bell’s performance is endearing. Critically acclaimed, it won Best Screenplay at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, and is one of the National Board of Review’s Top Ten Independent Films of 2013. I got a huge kick out of listening to the voiceovers from the various characters and I was surprised that I enjoyed the film so much.

Queen to Play

Chess is a very popular pastime these days. We even have a large chess board in the youth department Downtown at which families can challenge their skills. This resurgence in interest has spawned a number of movies, and I think the French language film, Queen to Play, is one of the best.

On the island of Corsica, Helene is a hotel chambermaid. She becomes interested in, and then obsessed by the game, and wants to learn more. Enter Kevin Kline, as a retired American doctor (and speaking flawless French), who employs Helene as his house-cleaner, and is as cultured and skilled as Helene is naïve and unaccomplished. He is reclusive and sad and relishes the opportunity to tutor this bright, untested student of chess. No one can believe that Helene’s passion and natural ability for the game will amount to anything.

Oh, they are so wrong!

Blue Jasmine on DVD & Blu-ray

After everything in her life falls to pieces, including her marriage to wealthy businessman Hal, elegant New York socialite Jasmine moves into her sister’s humble apartment in San Francisco to try to pull herself back together again. With the lead portrayed fabulously by Cate Blanchett, she paints the picture of a woman with deep mental anguish as she talks to herself and Hal throughout the film while struggling living day to day in total denial. It is very intense to watch her cope with all the life changes in such a deep psychosis. Blue Jasmine and Blanchett’s performance are wonderful and read Academy Award buzz.

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