By Jim Keller
Last year I equated the Oscar race to a horserace where each studio bets on its thoroughbreds and hopes that they can at least place at the end. I explained that the studio is the owner, the public relations department is the jockey, and the horse is the actor or film in the analogy. Here we thrust those roles I’ve discussed in the three-part Ones to Watch edition under a microscope to separate the nominees from the contenders and to identify the power players for each studio. I’ve also included my rankings as they stood on the eve of the Oscar nominations—the number in parenthesis indicates my placement following nominations. I chose the maximum ten nominees for Best Picture and all categories reflect five nominees. The top five in the chart were my nominee picks, those that fall outside of that were outside chances that I had listed. There is only one actual nomination that I did not have in my picks or as having an outside chance, Philomena for Best Picture.
By Aileen Marshall
We all know that the third Monday of January was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the holiday established to honor the civil rights activist. But do you know how it came to be an official federal holiday? This writer can remember a time when the holiday didn’t exist.
Martin Luther King, Jr., born January 15, 1929, was a significant civil rights activist in the 1950s and 1960s. King was an ordained Baptist minister and had a degree in sociology from Morehouse College in 1948 and graduated from Crozier Theological Seminary in 1951. After he completed his Ph.D. at Boston College in 1955, King became the pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. It was there that his history of civil rights activism began. In 1955 Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus, in defiance of local segregation laws. That spurred King to organize a city-wide bus boycott by the African-American community. Activists also challenged the bus segregation law in the courts. (The law was eventually overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.) King went on to encourage more non-violent acts of civil disobedience. Martin Luther King, Jr. was known for this style of making protests without aggression, such as sit-ins at lunch counters. His efforts and those of others led to the end of segregation laws in twenty-seven cities. King’s most famous event was the 1963 March on Washington, which included his “I Have a Dream” speech and emphasized his belief that one day all Americans would be equal and live in harmony. In 1964, he became the youngest man to win the Nobel Peace Prize. King was assassinated in 1968 by James Earl Ray while standing on his motel balcony in Memphis where he traveled to support a sanitation workers’ strike.
By Derek Simon
What makes great art? This is a question that thinkers have been pondering ever since civilization’s infancy and I dare not attempt to answer it in less than a page. Instead, I’ll posit what makes a great artist by using, in my opinion, the classical music world’s finest champion: Ludwig van Beethoven.
Of all composers, Beethoven is probably the most well-known. Haydn wrote 104 symphonies but almost none are recognizable to the casual listener. Mozart wrote 41, but the first 20 or so are completely forgettable. Beethoven wrote only nine symphonies but at least two are so famous that even people that have never listened to a piece of classical music have likely heard them: the first movement of the Fifth Symphony (duh-duh-duh-DUH) and the last movement of the Ninth, the Ode to Joy. Beyond that, numerous other pieces of his music are easily recognizable (the Turkish March, Für Elise, and the Moonlight Sonata are examples.) But why is this? Clearly, there’s something universal about Beethoven’s musical idiom, something in the sound he produces that appeals to most humans. Therefore, universality is the first characteristic that I believe defines a truly great artist.
By Bernie Lang
In the past couple of months, I’ve been to live concert performances in the major music genres of jazz, rock, and classical music. I found myself reflecting after each show on how these differing types of music are standing up within my own personal test of time.
My brother graced me with a ticket to see jazz saxophonist Joe Lovano play at the Village Vanguard. I hadn’t been to the fabulous Vanguard in many years, but remembered it as a small and intimate space for a performance. After I insisted that we sit in the back of the club, my brother immediately guided us to seats just one table away from the small stage. And I’m glad he did. Mr. Lovano played with a fantastic group, consisting of a piano player, a bassist and two drummers/percussionists. His saxophone playing was on a virtuoso level as he hovered above us, and the songs were exciting and exuded an extremely positive vibe. Mr. Lovano also showed off great and complex chops on the flute and clarinet, literally wowing the audience, who at the end gave a very warm ovation, which was gracefully and gratefully received by the band members. Mr. Lovano’s unique, complex, somewhat traditional sax melody lines, and his unwavering power and emotion on the ballads, will remain with me. I had written jazz off as a past interest, but this wonderful show rekindled my curiosity in this difficult form of music.
By George Barany, Jed Fisher, Micheel Hanko, and Marjorie Russel
GB is a Rockefeller alum (1977); JF is a native New Yorker transplanted to the mid-west, where at the University of Notre Dame he continues to read, think, and write about important minutiae at the interface between biology and chemistry; MH is a NYC voice teacher, writer, and performer; MR, a long-time member of the Laboratory of Genetics, is currently an Adjunct Associate Professor at Rockefeller. For more puzzles by Barany and Friends and for the solution to this month’s puzzle, visit http://tinyurl.com/gbpuzzle
Click here to download this month’s puzzle in pdf!