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  • We’re counting down this year’s Oscar race!  And here are the top ten actresses!

    As a life-long movie fan, I find these past few years to be especially exciting.  It’s largely accepted that 1939 was a banner year for movies.  The Best Picture nominations were films still considered among the best ever made.  (Among them were Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.)  It was the Golden Age of Hollywood.  And the actresses and actors of that time are still considered some of the best.

  • academy awardIn just a few weeks, winners will be announced at the Academy Awards, the culmination of the film awards season. This year’s nominees in the Actor and Supporting Actor categories are a diverse group. Five of the actors are nominated for the first time, and only one actor (Christian Bale) has previously won an Academy Award. With such amazing new or previously unrecognized talent, the race could be open to upset. Will the men of Dallas Buyers Club, who have dominated the race so far, continue their winning streak, or will there be a surprise win at the Oscars?

    Although I haven’t seen all of the nominated movies so far, I already have my favorites. Who would you like to see win an Academy Award?

    Best Actor:

    Christian Bale (American Hustle): In American Hustle, Bale plays Irving Rosenfeld, a con artist forced by the FBI to set up a sting operation in exchange for his freedom. A method actor who exchanges accents at will, Bale has starred in everything from big budget blockbusters (most notably as Batman in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy), to smaller independent films (The Machinist). This is Bale’s second Academy Award nomination, with a previous win for Supporting Actor in The Fighter.

    Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street): Recognized for his role as Jordan Belfort, a corrupt New York stockbroker, this is DiCaprio’s fourth Academy Award nomination and his fifth collaboration with director Martin Scorsese. After huge mainstream success in the 1990’s with blockbusters like Titanic and Romeo + Juliet, DiCaprio has since starred in a number of critically-acclaimed and Oscar-nominated movies. DiCaprio has already won a Critics’ Choice Award and a Golden Globe this season, and his fans hope that this might finally be his year at the Oscars.

  • olympic ringsIn less than a week, the XXII Winter Olympic Games will begin in Sochi, Russia. Although I have my favorite sports teams and root for them each year, I don’t generally make a habit of watching sporting events on television. For the Olympics, I make an exception. I am an Olympics addict and winter sports are my favorite. Skiing! Hockey! Figure Skating! Curling! Snowboarding! I watch it all. I have never been skiing in my life, can count on one hand the number of times I have strapped on a pair of ice skates, and don’t even really understand the scoring for most of the sports at the Winter Olympics. (Does anyone really, truly understand the “new” figure skating scoring system? I have my doubts.) But there is something magical about watching competitors at the top of their game represent their country and perform insane feats of athleticism and grace.

    When the games start next weekend, I’ll be glued to my TV at every free moment, watching the competition. But if you can’t wait for the Olympics to start, there are some great movies featuring winter sports. Not all the movies on this list actually take place at the Olympic Games, but each focuses on athletes training and competing in a winter sport.

    The Opening Ceremony of the XXII Winter Olympic Games will air Friday, February 7th in the evening on NBC. Don’t miss the Parade of Nations and the lighting of the torch!

  • As we settle in for another round of chilly temperatures here in Houston, I’m trying to imagine what it must be like for our family and friends in the North.  But my imagination falls short.  I really can’t fathom living and working in an environment where I’d have to face snowdrifts and icicles on a daily basis – much less driving in minus 0 weather. 

    And those musings led me to think about movies set in those climes.  And if we’re talking about cold weather, why not concentrate on those films that might send a chill down the spine – whether in summer or winter.  Or maybe just make you glad you live in southeast Texas.  Some of my favorites are listed below.  I’ll bet you find some of yours, too.

  • OscarsThis morning, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominations for the 86th Academy Awards. Honoring achievements in film, the Oscars are highly anticipated by Hollywood and movie goers alike. These nominations come several weeks after announcements of nominees for the Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG Awards) and the British Film Academy Awards (BAFTA Awards).

    Every year, I find it interesting to compare the lists of nominees in the major categories at these three awards shows. Sometimes the nominations are strikingly similar (as with this year’s nominees for best director and lead actress), and sometimes they are completely different (as with this year’s nominees for best supporting actor). Below, I have listed all the nominees for film, director and the four major acting awards.

    Although the Bafta Awards and the SAG Awards are always handy indicators of what is likely to win at the Academy Awards, there are always surpries at each show. It will be interesting to see how the wins compare at the end of awards season.

    For a look at the entire list of nominations for each awards show, visit the Academy Awards website, the BAFTA Awards website, and the Screen Actors Guild Awards website.

    Best Film or Performance by a Cast:

    • 12 Years a Slave: Academy Award, BAFTA, SAG
    • American Hustle: Academy Award, BAFTA, SAG
    • August: Osage County: SAG
    • Captain Phillips: Academy Award, BAFTA
    • Dallas Buyers Club: Academy Award, SAG
    • Gravity: Academy Award, BAFTA
    • Her: Academy Award
    • Lee Daniels’ The Butler: SAG
    • Nebraska: Academy Award
    • Philomena: Academy Award, BAFTA
    • The Wolf of Wall Street: Academy Award
  • movie reelsFor moviegoers, 2013 was a glorious mix of award-contenders and popcorn movies, fantasy and reality, animation and live-action, courageous people and superheroes. Whether we watched in the theater or from the comfort of a living room couch, movies this year inspired us to defeat monsters of all forms, grow closer to friends and loved ones, and build our own futures.

    If you missed some of these the first time, or just want to watch them a second time, browse the HCPL catalog and request a movie today! Remember some of these movies have yet to be released on DVD and so will not be available through HCPL just yet.

    So what was your favorite movie of 2013? Cast your vote in the poll below, or let us know in the comments!

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