Friday, 24 February 2012

Interview: Elliot Grove on the Oscars

Ahead of our live blog this Sunday we caught up with Elliot Grove (above), founder of Raindance and the British Independent Film Awards, who shared some Hollywood insight and gave us a few Oscar predictions.
CM: What are your thoughts on the Oscar contenders?
EG: I believe The Artist is going to take home at least four Oscars, including Best Picture, since it won at the BAFTAs, Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards and Producers Guild. The Artist is a favourite for Best Director, Best Original Score and Best Actor. Best Supporting Actor is a lock for Christopher Plummer and Best Supporting Actress is a lock for Octavia Spencer. Best Actress in a Leading Role is the toughest choice. There may be an upset in this category. I believe the favourite is Meryl Streep, but Viola Davis has a shot after her Screen Actors Guild win. Martin Scorsese's Hugo may take some technical categories, while Harry Potter should win its first ever Oscar for Best Visual Effects. The final category that may be a tough choice is Best Original Screenplay. The Artist should be a favourite, but Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris is a definite threat since it's his most original work in years. It's not winning Best Picture, but the screenplay was too good to ignore with Allen's brilliant dialogue and unique storytelling skills. Anything can happen.

CM: What are the biggest myths or misconceptions about Hollywood?
EG: One is that it is a liberal institution. Is that a possibility?  Does Hollywood allow celebrities to act as they choose. That's a definite no. Recently, comedian Sacha Baron Cohen asked the Academy producers if he could attend the awards on Sunday as his new character in the upcoming The Dictator. Cohen was not allowed to do this. He was not given the freedom to do this, because it would be extremely inappropriate for cable television. I don't believe they force people to think a certain way, even if they have the freedom to do what ever they want, sometimes

CM: Is there any way for a film to be completely independent of Hollywood and still crack the Oscars?
EG: The last few years, the Best Picture winner was a film that never encountered a wide release until after it won Best Picture. The Hurt Locker and The King's Speech were not successful in the box office at all, but they still managed to sweep the major categories at the Oscars. After the Oscars, people decide to go see it. I saw The King's Speech before it won, but it took me a while to find it. I heard about The Artist, but could not find it in any local theatres. After I arrived in England, it was really well advertised and is playing in a few theatres. After viewing the film, I hope it wins every Oscar it's nominated for, because it will pull another independent film upset over the films that were a box office success

CM: What do independent fesivals like Raindance and BIFA do that Hollywood and the Oscars can't?
EG: Hollywood and the Oscars are a big deal, but they cannot show absolutely every film that many independent film festivals presented. Raindance had a better shot presenting The Artist, because it took Hollywood so long to present it in theatres. Most importantly, Raindance and BIFA want to promote upcoming filmmakers. They want to help filmmakers find their big break or teach them important aspects of making a successful film. For Hollywood it takes a while to work your way up to be successful, while you can be a beginner and learn how to make your own films in Raindance and BIFA. It wants to give people a chance, while Hollywood only want to exploit people that are just beginning. It doesn't always give people a shot unless they have a lot of experience doing it.

Remember to come back to Containing Multitudes Sunday from 10.30pm when we'll be live blogging the 84th Academy Awards. For more information on Raindance visit

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Postgraduate Study at the School of American Studies

Come and join the School of American Studies at the University of East Anglia for postgraduate study! Funding available. Click the flyer above for details. Need convincing? More information below.

LIVE: The Oscars 2012

We're liveblogging the 84th Academy Awards through the night from the first arrival to the final award, so join us and get involved. Comment below or Tweet using #UEAOscars to get your opinions featured.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Celebrating Mardi Gras

New Orleans is currently alive with celebrations for the annual Mardi Gras festival. As ever, the celebrations end on Fat Tuesday, the last day before Lent begins, which means that it falls on the same day as Shrove Tuesday in the UK. Tuesday 21st February marks the occasion this year, and will see tourists and locals alike flood the streets to dress up, watch the parades and catch the beads thrown from the floats.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Alcohol on Pine Ridge Reservation: a $500m Debate

by Andi Bawden

On the 10th of February, the Oglala Sioux tribe sued a number of international beer companies, as well as smaller alcohol retailers in close proximity to their Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, for 500 million dollars.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Research Seminar: Anthony Stanonis

At this week's research seminar we're delighted to be welcoming Anthony Stanonis from Queen's University Belfast. Anthony is the author of
Creating the Big Easy: New Orleans and the Emergence of Modern Tourism, 1918–1945 (Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia Press, 2006) and, most recently, the editor of Dixie Emporium: Tourism, Foodways, and Consumer Culture in the American South (Athens, Ga: University of Georgia Press, 2008).

He'll be talking about: "Getting Color: Race, Tanning, and Tourism in the American South, 1900-1970."

February 15, Arts 2.51, 3pm. See you there.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Remembering Whitney Houston

by Liam Heffernan
You don’t have to be a fan of Whitney Houston to recognise the impact she has made across the entertainment industry. Many of her critics would hold her responsible for influencing the likes of Christina Aguilera, or for single-handedly keeping the TV talent show alive with her catchy dance pop stuff and those timeless ballad things. I’m not a music buff. But this is an artist who has sold 170 million albums, has 11 US number one hits, 6 Grammy Awards, and the best selling single by a female artist of all time (data from BBC News), which makes her almost as big as Robson & Jerome, and for that she will always be remembered as one of the greats.
The 48 year old singer of I Will Always Love You was pronounced dead in her Beverley Hilton Hotel room at approximately 3.30pm (11.30pm GMT) on Saturday. She was in Los Angeles for this evening’s Grammy Awards, and was due to attend a star-studded party last night hosted by record industry bigwig and long time mentor Clive Davis. The awards are usually the biggest event in the music calendar, but tonight it will take an appropriately sombre tone as former colleagues and friends pay their respects to someone who influenced almost everyone in popular music today. And if Michael Jackson’s death in 2009 is anything to go by, Houston’s fans will be turning the charts into a celebration of her greatest hits. Plus, we can expect Simon Cowell to deliver a touching dedication to the singer on the next series of The X Factor, for which the ratings boost will be purely coincidental and not a heartless calculation in any way whatsoever.
In recent years Whitney Houston has made headlines for very different reasons. Her turbulent marriage to Bobby Brown and her long term substance abuse overshadowed her music, and her attempts at a big comeback a few years ago faced setbacks following a disappointing live tour. This will be covered in grisly detail over the following weeks as investigative journalists tell us everything we already knew and call it The Secret Life of Whitney, The Real Whitney Houston, and so on. But for the real fans of Whitney Houston, the ones she sang for, the ones who bought her records and sat through her movies out of nothing more than blind loyalty (because sitting through The Bodyguard is no mean feat) she will be immortalised as one of the most talented, most influential, and most successful performers of the twentieth century.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Research Seminar: Susan-Mary Grant

At this week's research seminar, we're very pleased to be welcoming Professor Susan-Mary Grant (Newcastle University). The author of a number of books including The War for a Nation : the American Civil War (Routledge, 2006) and the forthcoming A Concise History of the United States of America (Cambridge, 2012), she will be talking about: "‘A wooden leg is no excuse for anything’: Maiming, Masculinity, and the Medicalization of the Civil War Soldier."

Arts 2.51, 4pm, all welcome.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Superbowl Special: Immaculate Connection

Immaculate Connection: Can Madonna, Gay Men and American Football Go Together?

by Francisco Costa 
On July 24, 2011, New York became the sixth, and largest, state to allow same-sex couples to marry. Two months later, following decades in which gay rights issues have divided American’s opinion, the end of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy allowed gay men and women to serve openly. In February this year, following a year which suggested that Americans were becoming increasingly less tolerant of institutional homophobia, a gay icon will be the halftime performer at the Super Bowl show which airs to an average audience of 111 million viewers in America. This not only suggests that Americans are less tolerant of institutional homophobia, but of cultural homophobia as well. Thus, the importance of popular culture, and in particular of Madonna performing at the Super Bowl, is rooted in its ideological, social, cultural effects, and on its capacity to reconceptualise cultural norms and hegemonic values, by reinforcing sexual otherness.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Research Seminar: Kaeten Mistry

At this week's Research Seminar, AMS's very own Kaeten Mistry will be talking about "Narratives of Intervention: The CIA and the Framing of Covert Action."

Arts 2.51, 3pm, Wednesday February 1st. See you there!