And the Oscar Goes To…

Last night at the star-studded 87th annual Academy Awards, Oscar winners were announced for the best in film for the past year. Top honors went to Birdman for Best Picture, Big Hero 6 for Best Animated Feature, Citizenfour for Best Documentary Feature, and Poland’s Ida for Best Foreign Language Film.

Individual Oscars went to Alejandro G. Iñárritu for Best Director for Birdman, Eddie Redmayne for Best Actor for The Theory of Everything, and Julianne Moore for Best Actress for Still Alice. Supporting nods going to J.K. Simmons for Whiplash and Patricia Arquette for Boyhood.

While Birdman won top prize in three of the top categories - The Grand Budapest Hotel also soared with nine nominations, taking home four Oscars, including: Achievement in costume design, Achievement in makeup and hairstyling, Achievement in production design, and Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original Score) .

Here is a full list of winners and nominees in all categories. What a year for film! Be sure to check out the other nominated films. (Of course here’s a quick list of AADL-owned titles.)

Did you watch? What were your favorite moments? What were the biggest surprises?

Birdman

Critically acclaimed and nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, Birdman stars Michael Keaton as Riggan, a washed up actor best known for playing the superhero Birdman a decade ago. He struggles in relationships with his ex-wife and daughter and is caught up in trying to revive his career by writing, directing and staring in a broadway production, which is a huge undertaking for him. Add the fact that Riggan is haunted by the voice of Birdman who taunts him for being washed up and no good, and it’s a huge weight upon Riggan’s shoulders, and he does not handle it well.

The film is very dark, but has its funny moments. Keaton’s performance is phenomenal and worth the viewing - he's at his best here. What I found most intriguing is the fact that the film is shot almost entirely as one continuous take. It sounds like it would be tedious, but it works really well in this film, and it allows us to get closer to Riggan and his fading stability.

Birdman received nine Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and acting nominations for Keaton, Edward Norton and Emma Stone. It was also nominated for seven Golden Globe Awards, where Keaton won Best Actor.

Skeleton Twins

The indie comedy-drama Skeleton Twins made its way through film festivals across the country last year with much acclaim. The film stars SNL alums Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig with phenomenal performances as fraternal twins Maggie and Milo.

They are both in their 30s, live in different states, and haven’t talked to each other in ten years. Unbeknownst to each other, they both plan to end their lives on the same day, and they each end up foiling the others plan, which forces a reunion. They spend the film getting reacquainted and trying to sort out their messed up lives. The movie is darkly funny, and the characters are so deeply flawed and loveable.

Boyhood on DVD

Director Richard Linklater’s Boyhood is one of my favorite films of 2014. People seem to either love it or hate it, but it’s been one of the most talked about films of the year.

Boyhood follows a young boy named Mason through ages 5 to 18. The film was shot over 12 years using the same cast. So not only do we see the boy grow up over those years, we see his parents, sister, and the rest of the cast grow and change as well. They filmed for a few weeks per year every year during the film’s making, often writing the script as they went from year to year.

It’s a groundbreaking concept and it was truly maginificent to see on the big screen. To watch a precious 5 year old turn into an awkward teen and then into an adult right before our eyes. Normally after a 3 hour film, I’m ready to go. But once we see Mason at age 18 and off on his next adventure… well, I wanted to keep following him.

TV Spotlight: Hinterland

If you’re looking for some new series to settle into cold temps with and are a fan of crime dramas, give Hinterland a try.

Hinterland is a noir crime drama set in Wales featuring DCI Tom Mathias as an intense detective searching for redemption while solving hate crimes along with his band of detective colleagues. He falls in line the current slew of brooding Scandinavian detectives just fine. While filming the show, each speaking scene was shot twice -- once in English and once in Welsh! The discs we have are in English. Hinterland is to Wales as The Killing is to Denmark and Wallender is to Sweden - both shows I love, so I just had to give it a try.

AADL has Series 1, which is four 90 minute episodes. Series 2 will air in 2015.

New TV Shows on DVD @ AADL

Another stack of new TV shows on DVD hit the catalog! This batch features nurses, cops, vikings, psychopaths, monsters, and Dracula. The library is always acquiring additional TV shows and new seasons of them, be they hot and new, or oldies but goodies. Good news comes with these particular new DVDs! You can now get the entire season in one check-out! Hello, binge watching! All the discs are in one case with an extended check-out period. Here are some new series on their way to AADL:

The Wonder Years, Season 1
The series depicts the social and family life of a boy in a typical American suburb from 1968 to 1973, covering his ages of 12 through 17.

Getting On, Season 1
Set in a women's extended-care unit of a California hospital, the story follows the daily lives of a ragtag staff assigned to care for elderly patients who are, well, getting on.

Extant, Season 1
An astronaut with International Space-Exploration Agency (ISEA) is assigned a 13-month solo mission aboard space station Seraphim. She returns home to her husband, a robotics engineer who created their son Ethan, a prototype android called a "humanich". When she mysteriously becomes pregnant, she begins a search for answers.

Dracula, Season 1
Centuries after the Order of the Dragon cursed him with immortality and murdered his wife, Dracula arrives in Victorian London to wreak his revenge. Posing as an American industrialist who intends to bring modern science to England, Dracula sets out to destroy the sect, only to fall in love with a woman who strongly resembles his dead wife, an obsession that threatens to thwart all his plans.

Blue Bloods, Seasons 1-4
Follows a multi-generational family of cops who are dedicated to New York City law enforcement.

Vikings, Season 1 and 2
An epic new series about history's bravest and most brutally fearsome warriors; Vikings. Ragnar, a would-be Viking chieftain, longs to fulfill his destiny as an explorer and conqueror, alongside his ambitious brother Rollo and loyal wife Lagertha. But as Ragnar leads daring raids in distant realms across the ocean, treacherous forces in his Norse homeland conspire against him.

Fargo, Season 1
The Coen Brothers Best Picture Oscar Nominee transforms into the season's most talked about TV debut. It features a new "true crime" story and new characters, all chilled in the trademark dry wit, murderous mayhem and "Minnesota nice" of the original classic film. Lorne Malvo, is a manipulative master criminal who changes the life of insurance salesmen Lester Nygaard. Gus Grimly and Molly Solverson are the small-town police officers who join forces to uncover Lester's secrets.

Hemlock Grove, Season 1
In the shadows of a rusted Pennsylvania steel town, the mangled body of a teenage girl is discovered. As they hunt for a monster among them, rumors mount and many of the eccentric residents become suspects, from the newly-arrived gypsy family to the wealthy Godfrey clan.

In the Flesh, Season 1 and 2
Zombie teenager Kieren Walker isn't comfortable in his 'undead' state. He didn't want to come back, he wanted to be dead. After his suicide four years ago, his friends and family thought they'd never see him again. But then, shortly after his funeral, thousands rose from the dead; and after a catastrophic war, imprisonment, months of rehabilitation and medication, the zombies are gradually being returned to their homes.

Bates Motel, Season 1 and 2
A modern day re-imagining of, and prequel to, the classic film Psycho. The story follows Norman Bates' teenage years, delving into his intricate relationship with his mother, and how she helped forge the most infamous serial killer of them all.

Penny Dreadful, Season 1
An erotically charged, profoundly unsettling new saga that completely reinvents literature's most iconic and terrifying characters. Dorian Gray, Victor Frankenstein, and timeless figures from Dracula join a core of original characters in a dark and brutal quest to save a soul, even as they grapple with their own monstrous temptations.

Broad City, Season 1
The show follows two best friends in their twenties navigating their way through everyday life in New York City. The show is centered around the lives of low income, struggling women and their friendships.

Fore more TV shows, be sure to check out AADL’s lists for HOT TV shows, as well as NEW TV shows.

Penny Seats Theatre Company Presents Elektra

The Penny Seats Theatre Company presents the Greek Tragedy Elektra at 7 pm July 11 – 12, 17 – 19 and 24 – 26 in Ann Arbor's West Park, 215 Chapin St. between Miller and Huron, Chapin and Seventh. The show, recommended for ages 16 and up, was written by Sophocles and translated by Anne Carson. A description of the play from Wikipedia: "Set in the city of Argos a few years after the Trojan war, it is based around the character of Electra, and the vengeance that she and her brother Orestes take on their mother Clytemnestra and step father Aegisthus for the murder of their father, Agamemnon." Tickets are $10 and picnic dinners are available. More information is here.

Bletchley Circle

Do you love watching mysteries but feel like the genre is a little heavy handed with the male detective? If so, check out Bletchley Circle! With an extraordinary flair for code breaking and razor-sharp intelligence skills, four seemingly ordinary women become the unlikely investigators of a string of grisly murders in this original thriller, set against the backdrop of post-war London.

Season 1 introduces us to Susan. Her conventionality masks a sharp, inquisitive mind. She may appear every inch the typical 1950s wife and mother, but when she hears about a string of unsolved murders in London, Susan’s old Bletchley spirit is ignited. Secretly, Susan reconvenes the formidable foursome – bohemian and streetwise Millie; Lucy, with her brilliant photographic memory and Jean, the methodical no-nonsense organizer. A race against the clock ensues as the women work to outwit the culprit. Can they rekindle their singular expertise and discover the killer’s next move – before he strikes again?

Season 2 opens with the episode Blood on Their Hands. Former Bletchley Park girl Alice Merren is in prison awaiting trial for murder. Jean stands behind her innocence and tries to reunite the circle in an attempt to help one of their own. Lucy is now getting on well in a clerical job at Scotland Yard and keeping her head down, and Millie is working as a German translator. Susan is reluctant to get involved after the occurrences in season 1. The second episode Uncustomed Goods, Millie branches out into what she believes to be a harmless sideline of dealing in uncustomed goods. This endeavor leads to her being kidnapped and held in a seedy hotel by some gangsters. On discovering this, Alice goes to Jean and Lucy to help. The girls start to investigate in order to save their friend and, as they do so, uncover a much darker, hidden world of crime.

Michigan Shakespeare Festival

Monday August 4, 2014: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Pittsfield Branch: Program Room

Are you a Shakespeare buff? Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth – do you feel akin to these characters and plays? Shakespearian plays and characters drew capacity crowds centuries ago at London’s Globe Theatre, yet these classic plays still draw tremendous audiences at theaters throughout the world today. What is it that still makes these plays resonate with audiences in today’s complex society?

Join Janice L. Blixt, award-winning Artistic Director of the Michigan Shakespeare Festival, as she discusses why we still produce and attend classical theatre, why Shakespeare is still the draw he is, and why it is important to have Shakespeare in our schools.

Blixt will also discuss the 20th Anniversary Michigan Shakespeare Festival Season, featuring productions of Hamlet, Cymbeline, and Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest.

Janice Blixt has been a professional director and classical actor for nearly 20 years, having played most of the great female roles from Lady Macbeth to Twelfth Night’s Olivia. Entering her fifth year as the MSF's Artistic Director, Blixt will direct Hamlet, Prince of Denmark and Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest.

The Michigan Shakespeare Festival inspires and entertains a diverse audience while further developing an appreciation for professional performances of Shakespeare's works and other classical plays.

Young Actors Guild: Macbeth

The Ann Arbor Young Actors Guild is gearing up for its presentation of Macbeth May 16-18 at the U-M Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre. In this classic play by William Shakespeare, an 11th century Scottish nobleman is led by an evil prophecy and his ruthless wife to the treasonous act that makes him king Ticket information is here.

Syndicate content