A Night to Remember at the Oscars

On March 4, the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles held the 90th Academy Awards, which was hosted by late night television host Jimmy Kimmel.  Kimmel opened the Oscars ceremony with a monologue that called out several nominees, such as Jordan Peele, Timothee Chalamet and Margot Robbie.  He additionally made jokes and remarks about last year’s Oscar envelope mix-up, President Trump and Mike Pence, and about how “clueless” Hollywood is about women.  

Kimmel then proceeded to discuss the large amount of sexual harassment claims in the past year, the #MeToo and #Time’sUp movements, and how positive change is currently taking place for women and African Americans, through movies like “Wonder Woman” and “Black Panther.”

 “We can’t let bad behavior slide anymore, said Kimmel, challenging the entertainment industry. “The world is watching us.”

 After Kimmel’s monologue, a black-and-white video displayed Hollywood celebrities like Mel Gibson and Harvey Weinstein, to follow up on celebrities’ sexual harassment in the workplace.  

The stage was decorated by Derek McLane who used 45 million crystals to represent each era in the history of movie making.

The night consisted of musical performances throughout the show, from songs that were nominated themselves to songs from nominated films.

In addition to Pixar’s “Coco” winning Best Animated Feature, the film won Best Song for “Remember Me.”  The song was written by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. Anderson-Lopez also wrote Frozen’s “Let It Go.”  The award-winning single was performed by actor Gael Garcia Bernal, R&B singer Miguel and singer Natalie LaFourcade, while being accompanied by a string of guitars and Mexican folk dancers.  

History was made when Daniela Vega, the first openly transgender woman presenter in Oscars history, introduced Sufjan Steven’s performance of “Mystery of Love” from Luca Guadagnino’s, “Call Me By Your Name.” Stevens rose from the ground at the beginning of the song, alongside St Vincent, Chris Thile and Moses Sumney.

In addition, rapper Common and Andra Day performed “Stand Up for Something” from “Marshall,” with a powerful call to action towards the end of the song. They were joined on stage by 10 activists, including Bana Alabed, Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood, civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, an eight-year-old Syrian refugee who tweeted about Aleppo, and a transgender activist.  

“This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman” scored a performance spot at the Oscars, which was performed by actor Keala Settle and co-written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.

The winners of the Oscars follow:

 

Black Panther Roaring in Theaters

On February 16th, the largely anticipated Marvel Studios film “Black Panther” was released.  It was directed by Ryan Coogler and produced by Kevin Feige and David J. Grant.  The production budget was $200 million and $150 million was spent on publicity.  The film’s ratings are 97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes from critics and 7.9/10 on IMDb.  The movie raised $242 million in the U.S., and $427 million worldwide within the first four days in theatres, crushing box office sales for movies such as “Deadpool” and “Justice League.” “Black Panther” accounts for the biggest debut for a film directed by an African American. This movie is sure to impact future on-screen and off-screen representation.

Early numbers predicted that the film would make between $100 million and $120 millions in its opening weekend, however with the build-up to the release date and the publicity, the pre-sale numbers grew incredibly.  The film was then indicated to hit $170 million just a few days before the film reached theaters.  

The plot of “Black Panther” follows T’Challa (played by Chadwick Boseman) as he is crowned the king of Wakanda, a wealthy nation in Africa, after the death of his father.  Lupita Nyong’o, Daniel Kaluuya and Forest Whitaker help protect the throne, Wakanda, and the rest of the world from the antagonist, Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan.)  The rest of the cast consists of Angela Bassett, Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, Sterling K. Brown and more.

Celebrities spoke up on Twitter about “Black Panther” following the release date to congratulate the cast on the movie’s success, along with admiring how the film will largely influence the young audience.

Harry Styles 24th Birthday Tribute

On Feb. 1, fans around the world celebrated Harry Styles 24th birthday. Harry Styles has built a strong, reputable self-image, starting with his role in British boyband, One Direction.  Over the past decade, he has completed many achievements, whether in the music or film industry.  Let’s look at some of his accomplishments in honor of his birthday:

Styles’ career began in 2010 when he auditioned for the U.K. “X Factor” and was placed with four other solo musicians, who would then become the phenomenon, One Direction. The band consisted of fellow members Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Zayn Malik.  Although One Direction placed third in the competition, this did not stop them from taking over the world.  In 2011, their first album was released and their single, “What Makes You Beautiful,” reached number one on the Top 40 charts.  Within the next few years, One Direction would come out with a documentary, do countless performances on television and on award shows, release five albums, go on four world tours and win 62 total awards.

After the One Direction hiatus began in 2016, each of the band members started solo careers, with Styles’ career specifically standing out.  Styles made his acting debut when he was cast as a main character in Christopher Nolan’s film, “Dunkirk.”  Later in 2016, Columbia Records signed Styles for an $80 million solo record deal for three albums.  The first album came out in April 2017.  This  ten-track album called “Harry Styles,” featured the lead single, “Sign of the Times,” which hit number one on the Top Tracks chart in 84 countries on the same day it was released.  A week after the album release date, Styles made his solo debut as a musical guest on Saturday Night Live, alongside host Jimmy Fallon.  Styles performed “Sign of the Times” and “Ever Since New York.”  In 2017, Harry Styles was nominated for three Teen Choice Awards, which consisted of choice male artist, choice rock artist and choice song, for “Sign of the Times.”  Harry Styles’ career is far from being over and fans cannot wait to see what he is going to come up with next.

 

Featured Image: Harley Weir/Columbia Records.

Will Meek Mill Be Freed?

On Monday, Nov. 6, Robert Williams, otherwise known as rap artist Meek Mill, was arrested and sent to prison for two to four years for violating his 2008 probation.  He was convicted in 2008 for drug and gun charges, but was released under a five year parole agreement in 2009.  In 2016, Mill failed a drug test and did not obey a court order restricting his travel, which led to him serving 90 days under house arrest.  Prosecutors explained that Mill even turned in cold water instead of urine for a drug test.

The 30-year-old headed to a Philadelphia court on Monday to deal with arrests from earlier this year.  He was involved in a fight in the St. Louis airport in March 2017 and was also arrested for recklessly driving his motorcycle in New York City in August 2017.  The charges for both of these arrests were dropped, however Philadelphia judge Genece Brinkley would not let his most recent arrests slide, since they violated his parole.

 Judge Brinkley said, “I gave you break after break, and you basically just thumbed your nose at this court,” after she originally gave Mill five years in prison for his past charges.  Mill’s attorney reported to CNN that he plans to appeal the sentence and accused judge Brinkley of taking “a personal interest in the case.”

Meek Mill’s fans are hoping that they can make a difference and get him out of the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution Camp Hill by making a petition on Change.org. They plan to send the petition (which already has 396,000 signatures) to Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf, asking him to reevaluate Mill’s sentence.

Other celebrities and rappers such as, Rick Ross, T.I. and Jay Z, have also drawn attention to Mill’s arrest, calling it unfair and unjust.  Jay Z showed his support for Meek Mill by saying, “The sentence handed down by the judge — against the recommendation of the assistant district attorney and probation officer — is unjust and heavy handed.  We will always stand by and support Meek Mill, both as he attempts to right this wrongful sentence and then in returning to his musical career,” at his Dallas show on Tuesday, Nov. 7.