Stumbled Upon: History of Science Fiction

I love all sorts of literature, but sci-fi/fantasy holds a special place in my heart– and apparently I’m not the only one. Artist Ward Shelley has put together a lovely and elaborate Mapped History of Science Fiction. Including films and books alike, the complexity of the map displays the devotion of a true fan. While I’ve included the picture below, an enlarged photo is necessary to get the full effect. Just something I stumbled upon and thought I would share– Enjoy!

Advertisements

Oscars: tweet, tumble, post or blog?

The Academy Awards are tomorrow night and, while it’s no Super Bowl, the show is sure to reach a large audience. For the past few weeks (okay, let’s be serious, knowing my interests it’s more like months) my social networking sites have been ablaze with Oscar commentary and speculation. From Facebook to Twitter to Tumblr to the Blogosphere– everyone has an opinion and loyal followers like myself just can’t get enough of it.

Tomorrow night will find my in front of the television with my computer at hand, ready to shush any unnecessary comments from the peanut gallery that is my apartment (I’m ruthless when it comes to these things). I’ll be completely hooked in the Oscars both onscreen and behind the scenes thanks to modern day technology. This got me thinking– how will other people be enjoying the Oscars? What sites will they be using to keep connected, whether they’re watching in real time or not. And so I have introduced my very first blog poll!! This might be an epic failure, but I’m genuinlely curious to find out about the obsessive viewing habits of other social media nerds. So let me know that I’m not the only one!

“A language we all speak…”

Classes have started up again. For the most part, we’ve only met once or twice, but my schedule seems enjoyable. A fun last semester that will also hopefully prove beneficial to any job possibilities.

In line with my school’s policies, as seniors we have to take a final “Core Curriculum” class. The subjects of these classes are varied, and we choose whichever one might appeal to us most. I chose a Psychology (my minor) based class with a former professor with whom I actually did some research and independent study work. The topic is “Families and Society,” and at our introduction class yesterday, we spent much of the time discussing what a ‘family’ is exactly. We began by introducing ourselves and our majors. My professors then had us each relate the topic of Family to our respective fields. As a Core class, she was determined to highlight the importance of our various views and experiences in understanding the subject. To make a long story short(er), ideas and terms were thrown around for an hour or so. Discussion ensued. Afterward much conversing, my teacher decided to make things a little fun and show us film scenes that portrayed families. Her explanation for this was because “Media is a language we all speak.”

This statement was made as just a passing remark, but I immediately wrote it down in my notebook. It’s by no means revolutionary or deeply profound, but I found it interesting. As a Communications major with a focus in Public Relations, I consider the media to be a large part of my field. It is, in fact, my interest in all forms of the media that lead me into this discipline. So, to consider that media, a major study of mine, was a universally understood language was sort to remarkable. During my walk back from the class, I thought more about this small statement that most people didn’t even take notice of. It really is a uniting ‘language’ of sorts. We all use it, acknowledge it, learn from it, accept or disagree with it. It is a part of our everyday lives, no matter where we live or who we are. Only the most remote indigenous tribes can be arguably free from media influence, but even then the difference between our society and theirs is much greater than just a lack of newspapers or television.

Media is universal. While it comes in all forms and language, we all understand it. It’s there and we know why it’s there. Whether we trust it or distrust it, whether we enjoy it or hate it– media truly is a “language we all speak.”

Why Toy Story 3 deserves Best Picture…but won’t get it.

First, let me admit to being late to the game. I’ve only JUST seen Toy Story 3. For months I’ve had to avoid spoilers. My friends, having grown up with the series like myself, had all seen and loved the film, and were anxious to talk about it. But I plugged my ears and carried on, somehow missing out on every opportunity to see the film until I Netflixed it.

The. Movie. Was. Wonderful.


I honestly believe that Toy Story 3 is one of the best films to have been released this past Oscar year. No, I haven’t seen all the pictures rumored to be Best Picture contenders, but I certainly feel confident enough to make a case for Toy Story 3. Critics predict that TS3 will most definitely get a nom, most likely even a Best Picture nomination due to the increased category sizes (10). Yet, critics also overwhelming agree that the chances of TS3 WINNING Best Picture are slim to none. Their most definite lose in the category is not due to any deficiency in quality, but rather it can be pinpointed to the simple fact that TS3 is a “kids’ movie.” Yes, TS3 is quite obviously labeled a “family film,” “child-friendly,” “fun for the whole family”– but what the average viewer fails to understand is that TS3 is much, much more.

Let’s first look at the reasons why TS3 should win Best Picture. As the Oscars website says, the golden statue is symbolic of “superior achievement…Although it measures just 13½ inches high, the Oscar statuette stands tall as the motion picture industry’s greatest honor. Officially named the Academy Award of Merit, the Oscar is given in recognition of the highest level of achievement in moviemaking.” So how do you judge the quality of “moviemaking”? Well, for the purpose of this write-up, and seeing as I’m no expert movie critic, I will explain my argument based upon my own beliefs in what makes a good movie good.

  1. The Cast/Acting: As a cartoon (which, by the way, is a major strike against TS3’s winning Best Picture) we clearly do not see the actors portraying the characters, but a quick view of the cast list reveals a myriad of seasoned veterans in the film industry, led by the admirable Tom Hanks. Other voice talents include those of Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Don Rickles, Michael Keaton, Whoopi Goldberg, Timothy Dalton, and John Ratzenberger (whose voice “appears” in EVERY Pixar film). The award count, both of nominations and wins, amongst this group is too great to cover. Okay, so clearly the cast is of film history, but further proof of their absolute talent is the impact the characters they have created have had on multiple generations. At 21, I grew up with the series and could name any of the toys. My parents, of the baby boomer generation, could also name any of the toys, because let’s face it– parents want to watch this movies as much as their kids do. I work at a daycare (ironic when looked at in reference to the film’s content), and I know the range of children who come in who can also name these characters. From the two-year old who cries for the Woody doll every time he comes in, to the 8-year-old who (maybe a bit begrudgingly) admits to wanting to play with Buzz. The characters have spanned generations, and are loved by each and every one of them.
  2. The Script: Something I particularly noticed about the “human” dialogue was how believe it was, possibly because I can recall having the exact same conversations within the past couple of years (the mother’s reaction to her sons emptied out room/son going away? Yea, I’m pretty sure they snuck into my house for that one). Of course, the witticisms of the toys are beyond hilarious– and intelligent. From Lotso’s silly sigh of “F.A.O. my Schwartz!” to Bonnie’s toys informing Woody that they “do a lot of improve,” I was laughing almost throughout the film. I possibly mistakenly chose to watch this film with my mom who is a notoriously loud laugher and due to her constant cracking up, there were multiple occasions when I had to rewind a bit to hear some dialogue we might have missed. And it’s also heartwarming, as are several of the moments in the movie.
  3. The Storyline: I will begin this part by stating how frightening I found particular scenes to be in this movie (fire burning at the dump!! My stomach was in my throat). Overall, the story was phenomenal. The plot was perfect and went right along with the other two movies, as well as remained relatable to viewers– Andy ages and goes to college, I’ve aged and gone to college…are my toys mad at me? The story also had everything drama (moving on to another chapter in one’s life, letting going of the past), humor (mentioned above), adventure (an escape to rival Ocean’s 11 or Shawshank Redemption), horror (once again, dumpster and fire), romance (Jesse & Buzz, sitting in a tree…Oh, and whose heart didn’t break when it was revealed the Bo Peep had gone on to a new kid?), and…foreign influence (Yo quiero Espana Buzz).
  4. The Appeal: I’ve already mentioned this various times throughout this post, but there is no denying the widespread appeal of this sort of movie. A greater audience will be able to enjoy this film–to laugh with it, to cry with it–than any of the other contenders. This movie does the practically impossible by defying age boundaries. At the box office, most adults went with children, but I know a great deal more who went on their own. I know grown men who admitted to bawling like a baby at the movie. I know children who call this film their favorite, as well as adults. Critics loved the film, not just for children, but for themselves. The Toy Story franchise in general has a vast appeal that nearly no other movie has, or will ever have.

In an earlier post I mentioned the unique campaign Pixar was running for TS3’s consideration in the award season race. It is the clever and brilliant ideas such as that can be found throughout the whole Toy Story franchise. And yet, it’s a cartoon. It’s a Disney cartoon. While the Academy members who vote are certainly more able to appreciate the film’s genius than the general population, there is still a certain taboo to the idea of a cartoon (actually, computer animated) becoming the Best Picture. After all, an animated film isn’t suppose to be though-provoking, deep, emotional, moving, AND entertaining. That would just be preposterous…right?

Honestly, I can’t rave about TS3 enough. But, then again, this is only one person’s opinion. I would love to know how others felt about it– Sound off below?

Weighing in on the Golden Globes

I love movies and I love television, so I was most definitely among the many viewers who tuned in to the Golden Globes Sunday night. When I first heard that Ricky Gervais was hosting, I was as giddy as a school-girl. His past performances at awards shows, even those he wasn’t hosting, have always been more than memorable (see example here). Gervais hosted last years Golden Globes and the result were increased ratings. This years outcome appears to have been the same, with a 5% rise in viewers. With these sort of results, Gervais would appear to be a shoe-in for hosting any number of award shows. unfortunately, his  performance has brought in mixed reviews.

I would like to comment on the mixed reactions to Ricky Gervais’ hosting. As I watched the Golden Globes, it was clear that Gervais was playing with fire, pushing the envelope with several of his jokes. The reaction from the audience present was a mixture of laughter, half-hearted “ohhhh”s, shocked gasps, and uncomfortable (and forced) chuckles (mainly from the butt of the jokes). His opening monologue was particularly harsh, commenting on everything from Hugh Hefner’s sex life to Charlie Sheen’s outrageous antics. After reading some reviews of the show, it appear that the most controversial remark he made was in reference to Scientology and the closeted homosexuals who practice it:

“Also not nominated was ‘I Love You Philip Morris,’ Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor.
Two heterosexual characters pretending to be gay.
So the complete opposite of some famous Scientologists, then.”

This thinly veiled joke seems to have upset much of the online community who have called Gervais’ performance as everything from “rude” to “cringe-worthy.”

My opinion?

When you hire Ricky Gervais, expect nothing less than Ricky Gervais.

He is a notoriously malicious comic. His jokes make fun of others as well as himself. And good for him–his unrelenting and unforgiving, an attitude that seems especially necessary in modern-day Hollywood. If someone really is to blame for his indiscretions, shouldn’t it be the producers of the show who a) hired him (back) and b) failed to look over this prepared script?

Luckily, some of the stars seem to have taken Gervais’ quips with a smile. After commenting that Robert Downey Jr. is probably best known for his stints in prison and rehab, the ever good-humoured RDJ took the stage and made his own risqué (though hilarious) jokes.

Others seem to have not been so happy with the comments. Reports say that several celebrity reps have already been in contact with the producers to voice their complaints.

My final word: It’s Hollywood. Celebrities are in the spotlight, and when they end up making ridiculously stupid decisions (Charlie Sheen’s shenanigans for instance), they can’t expect to escape the inevitable jokes that will be made at their expense.

So Congrats Ricky Gervais! Show well done, and much enjoyed!

Toy Story 3: “For Your Consideration” Campaign

It’s Oscar season, and any movie that was any movie is asking for the academy’s “consideration.” While some campaigns are less organized, such as Justin Timberlake’s personal crusade to gain The Social Network some Oscar glory, Disney has once again pushed the envelope.

Animated films, no matter how amazing, are often overlooked in the Best Picture category. Only twice before have animated films been even considered for the honor– Beauty and the Beast (’97?) and last year’s Up. But Disney’s Toy Story 3 refuses to be ignored. To combat the often neglectful eye of the academy, Disney is running what appears to be an ingenious campaign for Toy Story 3 in an attempt to be considered as a Best Picture nominee.

Disney has released a series of imaginative posters comparing their Toy Story 3 to past Oscar Best Picture winners. Taking scenes from the actual film featuring all our favorites–Woody, Buzz, Jesse–each poster features the tagline “Not since [movie]…”

Spoofs include Lord of the Rings, On the Waterfront, and an all too funny picture of Jesse with the tag “Not Since Annie Hall…”

The website is featured below, and I’ve attached a few pictures to this post. Really, the photos are worth a look…and consideration (whether you’re from the academy or not).

http://www.waltdisneystudiosawards.com/toystory3/photos.php

Not since On the Waterfront…

Not since The Sting…

 

Not since The Sound of Music…

http://www.waltdisneystudiosawards.com/toystory3/photos.php