Yet another category of the Oscars that rarely gets the attention it deserves? Best Documentary Feature. The filmmakers who create these pieces go to extreme lengths for their work, and often do so with the admirable intention of bringing a greater message and awareness to their audience. This year’s crop of contestants are all powerful and captivating, and range widely in subject matter. From the conflict in Afghanistan to the life and legacy of a legendary choreographer, these films expose us to real aspects of our world we might never know otherwise. Below are the trailers for the gripping, real life films that caught the Academy’s attention this year, as well as summaries of their subjects and intentions.
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The recent Grammy Awards show saw its shares of highs and lows. From Nicki Minkaj’s completely unexpected and utterly baffling performance of “Roman Takes a Holiday”, to Adele’s fairly predictable sweeping of pretty much every major category out there. Arguably, the show’s biggest “Aww” moment, however, came on the red carpet. Between E! interrogating artists about what shade of nail polish they were wearing and LL Cool J hyping up the waiting crowd, stood two interviewers of slightly… lower profile (literally). Sophia Grace Brownlee and her cousin Rosie Grace McClelland, who have been featured several times on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and served as correspondents for her at the American Music Awards, represented her show at the Grammys, where they held court with celebrities like Rihanna and Maroon 5.
The pair, who hail from England, rose to fame when a video of them performing Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass” took YouTube by storm (it now has over 31 million views). Since then, the precocious pair—Sophia Grace is eight, and Rosie is five, have appeared on Ellen to perform “Super Bass” as well as Keri Hilson’s “Turn My Swag On” and Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”. Sophia Grace acts as the vocals for the duo, while Rosie is her “hype girl”, meaning she dances to Sophia’s songs and provides moral support. While Rosie is a woman of few words, Sophia Grace’s personality is larger than life, with vocals to match, and both girls impress and entertain the audience with their American accent impressions and enthusiastic discussions about Princess costuming.
Wildlife Control is quite literally, a band of brothers. And not your average one at that. Formed in late 2009/early 2010, Wildlife Control is an indie rock band, made up of brothers Neil and Sumul Shah, originally from Northeast Pennsylvania, who came together because they both felt that music like theirs had to be made. Part of what makes them so unique is that the brothers live and operate on different coasts, Neil being based in Brooklyn, and Sumul calling San Francisco home. Somehow, though, they manage to play shows, during which they switch on and off with different instruments, sharing vocals and incorporating drums, guitar, and piano (they also have a long time friend who cameos on bass). What makes Wildlife Control even more unconventional? They’re lack of a record label. Having premiered their first single “Analog or Digital” in December, they’re due to debut their first EP, “Spin” in March. The brothers are also looking to release a full LP later in 2012, all while being unsigned. Responsible for their own recording process, any song you hear of theirs could just as easily have been laid down in a stairwell or local park as in an actual recording studio.
The 84th Academy Awards will be broadcast this coming Sunday, and I’m sure some of you will be sitting at home with friends or family, ballots in hand, keeping track of who can correctly predict the most winners. While categories like Best Actress and Best Picture have gotten a lot of attention this year, smaller but equally important categories have been a little lost in the shuffle. Among these: Best Foreign Language Film. Though less readily available, this year’s list of nominees is impressive and extremely diverse. So, here is an opportunity to familiarize yourself with the nominees, so that, come Sunday, you can wow all your fellow viewers with your knowledge about these outstanding films from all over the world (and maybe even use this as a tool to help with your selections).
Today brings the newest entry in Converse’s “3 Artists, 1 Song” promotional program—a fun, quirky dance track by Damon Albarn (Gorillaz), Andre 3000 (OutKast) and James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem). According to Pitchfork, “DoYaThing” was recorded live in Albarn’s London studio after three days together, and this four and a half minute version will be followed by a full length, twelve minute version. There will also be a video debut on February 29 to keep the traffic flowing to the Converse website. The marketing tie-in involves three Limited Edition Chuck Taylor designs by Gorillaz Co-Creator Jamie Hewitt, featuring the colorful camo print associated with the band.
With the opening keyboard chord, “DoYaThing” folds into electronic blips and a one-take opening by Albarn, typically smooth and sultry. Andre 3000 hits the ground running for his one-take rap, taking us back to the happy zone with a bloop de bloop. All that’s missing is some nice crooning by Murphy, although the uplifting choral harmonies towards the end create a classic LCD Soundsystem moment anyway. Download the song here.