Friday, March 12, 2010

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

A Newberry Medal winner, this book was recommended to me as a classic in children's literature and I really enjoyed the story.

Set in the late 17th century the story is about Kit Tyler, an independent and confident young lady (age 16) who travels from a relatively carefree life in Barbados to an Aunt who resides in cold and bleak Connecticut.

Having come from a life where she had been free to do as she wished, never expected to work and with a personal servant who had been with her since childhood, Kit finds her Aunt and Uncle's Puritan household to be overly strict and she can't help but rebel against the rules and restrictions they expect her to follow as a member of their family.

Kit is constantly at conflict with her Uncle and the expectations of the community's Puritan beliefs. After one such conflict she escapes the confines of the house to the peaceful meadows outside of the town. An old quaker widow, Hannah, lives there and all are warned to stay away as there are suspicions the woman could be a witch. However Kit finds comfort with Hannah who seems to have a calming influence on her and makes the rest of her life more bearable.

There are young men in Kit's life - the keen suitor William, the annoying but good looking sailor, Nat, and a divinity student John who is one of the few people she feels able to talk to beside her cousins Mercy and Judith.

As she has been well educated, Kit helps Mercy in 'the dame school' and befriends a little girl, Prudence, who she met on the last leg of her voyage and who is somewhat dazzled by the capable Kit. Kit works hard to overcome early objections to her by the community but her continued friendship with Hannah fuels suspicions. Combined with jealousy and fear this culminates in Kit being accused of witchcraft.

The book moves with a fast pace and there are occasions when you are filled with terror for what could happen to Kit. She is an easy character to identify with - after all, haven't we all wanted to rebel against people telling us what we can and can't do?

A great read for older children/young adults, or just the young at heart!

Monday, March 8, 2010

2010 Academy Awards

L to R: Sandra Bullock, best actress winner ; Kathryn Bigelow winner of best director for the best movie, the Hurt Locker ; Jeff Bridges, best actor winner.

The 2010 Academy Awards was a glittering affair and rightly so. Dominated by wins by The Hurt Locker, these were the winners and nominees:

Best Motion Picture of the Year

WINNER : The Hurt Locker
Other Nominees: Avatar ; The Blind Side; District 9 ; An Education ; Inglourious Basterds ; Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire ; A Serious Man ; Up ;
Up in the Air

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
WINNER : Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart
Other Nominees: George Clooney for Up in the Air ; Colin Firth for A Single Man ; Morgan Freeman for Invictus ; Jeremy Renner for The Hurt Locker.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
WINNER : Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side
Other Nominees: Helen Mirren for The Last Station ; Carey Mulligan for An Education ;
Gabourey Sidibe for Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire ; Meryl Streep for Julie & Julia

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
WINNER : Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds
Other Nominees: Matt Damon for Invictus ; Woody Harrelson for The Messenger ; Christopher Plummer for The Last Station ; Stanley Tucci for The Lovely Bones

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
WINNER : Mo'Nique for Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
Other Nominees: Penélope Cruz for Nine ; Vera Farmiga for Up in the Air ; Maggie Gyllenhaal for Crazy Heart ; Anna Kendrick for Up in the Air

Best Achievement in Directing
WINNER : Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker
Other Nominees: James Cameron for Avatar ; Lee Daniels for Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire ; Jason Reitman for Up in the Air ; Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
WINNER : The Hurt Locker - Mark Boal
Other Nominees: Inglourious Basterds - Quentin Tarantino ; The Messenger - Alessandro Camon, Oren Moverman ; A Serious Man - Joel Coen, Ethan Coen ; Up - Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Thomas McCarthy

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
WINNER : Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire - Geoffrey Fletcher
Other Nominees: District 9 - Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell ; An Education - Nick Hornby ; In the Loop - Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche ; Up in the Air - Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner

Best Achievement in Cinematography
WINNER : Avatar - Mauro Fiore
Other Nominees: Das weisse Band - Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte - Christian Berger ; Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - Bruno Delbonnel ; The Hurt Locker - Barry Ackroyd ; Inglourious Basterds - Robert Richardson

Best Achievement in Editing

WINNER : The Hurt Locker - Bob Murawski, Chris Innis
Other Nominees: Avatar - Stephen E. Rivkin, John Refoua, James Cameron ; District 9 - Julian Clarke ; Inglourious Basterds - Sally Menke ; Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire - Joe Klotz

Best Achievement in Art Direction
WINNER : Avatar - Rick Carter, Robert Stromberg, Kim Sinclair
Other Nominees: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus - David Warren, Anastasia Masaro, Caroline Smith ; Nine - John Myhre, Gordon Sim ; Sherlock Holmes - Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer ; The Young Victoria - Patrice Vermette, Maggie Gray

Best Achievement in Costume Design
WINNER : The Young Victoria - Sandy Powell
Other Nominees: Bright Star - Janet Patterson ; Coco avant Chanel - Catherine Leterrier ; The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus - Monique Prudhomme ; Nine - Colleen Atwood

Best Achievement in Makeup
WINNER : Star Trek - Barney Burman, Mindy Hall, Joel Harlow
Other Nominees: Il divo - Aldo Signoretti, Vittorio Sodano ; The Young Victoria - John Henry Gordon, Jenny Shircore

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
WINNER : Up - Michael Giacchino
Other Nominees: Avatar - James Horner ; Fantastic Mr. Fox - Alexandre Desplat ; The Hurt Locker - Marco Beltrami, Buck Sanders ; Sherlock Holmes - Hans Zimmer

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song
WINNER : Crazy Heart - T-Bone Burnett, Ryan Bingham("The Weary Kind")
Other Nominees: Faubourg 36 (2008): Reinhardt Wagner, Frank Thomas("Loin de Paname"); Nine - Maury Yeston("Take It All") ; The Princess and the Frog - Randy Newman("Almost There"); The Princess and the Frog - Randy Newman("Down in New Orleans")

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
WINNER : The Hurt Locker - Paul N.J. Ottosson, Ray Beckett
Other Nominees: Avatar - Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson, Tony Johnson ; Inglourious Basterds - Michael Minkler, Tony Lamberti, Mark Ulano ; Star Trek - Anna Behlmer, Andy Nelson, Peter J. Devlin ; Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Geoffrey Patterson

Best Achievement in Sound Editing
WINNER : The Hurt Locker - Paul N.J. Ottosson
Other Nominees: Avatar - Christopher Boyes, Gwendolyn Yates Whittle ; Inglourious Basterds - Wylie Stateman ; Star Trek - Mark P. Stoeckinger, Alan Rankin ; Up - Michael Silvers, Tom Myers

Best Achievement in Visual Effects
WINNER : Avatar - Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham, Andy Jones
Other Nominees: District 9 - Dan Kaufman, Peter Muyzers, Robert Habros, Matt Aitken ; Star Trek - Roger Guyett, Russell Earl, Paul Kavanagh, Burt Dalton

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

WINNER : Up - Pete Docter
Other Nominees: Coraline - Henry Selick ; Fantastic Mr. Fox - Wes Anderson ; The Princess and the Frog - John Musker, Ron Clements ; The Secret of Kells - Tomm Moore

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
WINNER : El secreto de sus ojos (Argentina)
Other Nominees: Ajami (Israel); Das weisse Band - Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (Germany); Un prophète (France); La teta asustada (Peru)

Best Documentary, Features
WINNER : The Cove - Louie Psihoyos, Fisher Stevens
Other Nominees: Burma VJ: Reporter i et lukket land - Anders Østergaard, Lise Lense-Møller ; Food, Inc. - Robert Kenner, Elise Pearlstein ; The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers - Judith Ehrlich, Rick Goldsmith ; Which Way Home - Rebecca Cammisa

Best Documentary, Short Subjects
WINNER : Music by Prudence - Roger Ross Williams, Elinor Burkett
Other Nominees: China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province - Jon Alpert, Matthew O'Neill ; The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner - Daniel Junge, Henry Ansbacher ; The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant - Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert ; Królik po berlinsku - Bartosz Konopka, Anna Wydra

Best Short Film, Animated
WINNER : Logorama - Nicolas Schmerkin
Other Nominees: French Roast - Fabrice Joubert ; Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty - Nicky Phelan, Darragh O'Connell ; La dama y la muerte - Javier Recio Gracia ; Wallace and Gromit in 'A Matter of Loaf and Death'- Nick Park

Best Short Film, Live Action
WINNER : The New Tenants - Joachim Back, Tivi Magnusson
Other Nominees: The Door - Juanita Wilson, James Flynn ; Istället för abrakadabra - Patrik Eklund, Mathias Fjällström ; Kavi - Gregg Helvey ; Miracle Fish - Luke Doolan, Drew Bailey