August 01, 2014 05:44 UTC

Entertainment

Oscar Nominees Named; New 'Les Mis' Soundtrack Climbs the Charts; Art Exhibit Explores Our Digital Selves

Read, listen and learn English with this story. Double-click on any word to find the definition in the Merriam-Webster Learner's Dictionary.

"Life of Pi" received 11 Academy Award nominations
"Life of Pi" received 11 Academy Award nominations

Multimedia

Play or download an MP3 of this story
Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.
 
I’m June Simms.
 
On our show this week, we listen to music from the Oscar nominated movie, “Les Miserables.”
 
And we tell about the movies and performers nominated for Academy Awards.
 
But first we visit a digital work of art near Washington, D.C.
 
“W3FI” Exhibit
 
How do you represent yourself online? Who are you when you are out in the real world? How are your two selves connected? And how do they interact with the global nature of the Internet?
 
These are the kinds of questions that led to the creation of an art installation called “W3FI,” currently on exhibit at the Artisphere in Arlington, Virginia.
 
Christopher Cruise takes us to the show.
 
Narrow lines of light streak across the wall. Circles of light float up the wall like bubbles, turning on and off. Lighted images of the faces of visitors are captured in round virtual frames on another wall. Messages about wireless communication activity appear and disappear. And cubes for seating spread light up and go dark, in no immediately recognizable pattern.
 
The visual experience of the “W3FI” show at Artisphere is enough to make visitors glad they went. It is bright and beautiful.
 
But, the exhibit also raises interesting questions about the connections among the Internet, the individual, and online society.
"W3FI" exhibit at Artisphere"W3FI" exhibit at Artisphere
x
"W3FI" exhibit at Artisphere
"W3FI" exhibit at Artisphere
Digital artists Laleh Mehran and Chris Coleman created the “W3FI” installation. They are both professors at University of Denver in Colorado. The project began at Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art where the curator asked for a work that explored the issue of diversity. Chris Coleman says he and Mehran decided to center on technological diversity.  He says Boulder is generally high tech. But he says there are also large parts of the city that are disconnected from technology.
 
“So we wanted to have a little bit of dialogue about that. And we decided to not just have a critical conversation about technology and people’s access to it, as well as the way we’re treating each other in these technological venues, but also to try and navigate and describe a pathway for making that technological space a better place for everyone to exist in.”
 
“W3FI” is not just an art piece, its creators say on their “W3FI” website. It is also a social movement. The name is a mix of the words “wifi” and “we.”
 
“Wifi describes the invisible internet network that allows us all to connect to the global marketplace and idea space to W3FI so it’s a space that we’re all collectively existing in. It’s about how we exist together, and how we affect each other and how we shape each other’s lives in this new space.”
 
The show travelled from Boulder to Santa Fe, New Mexico and then to Rosario, Argentina before it came to Washington. The look of the exhibit changes for each new location, with images of buildings and landscape from the area.
 
“We re-fashion the entire show because the conversation is about how we’re globally interconnected, but also about how we all have an exchange that’s local and physical as well. The whole goal of the installation is to have you confront your existence in the physical and digital space at the same time.”
 
Chris Coleman says visitor reactions to the show differed in ways that seemed connected to the place it was in. He says Argentinians provided an especially interesting reception.
 
“You know, Argentina is a few years behind in the sort of broad acceptance of technology into their lives. So they were asking really pointed questions about whether or not they should be accepting the sort of things that we already take for granted in the US. So that was a very powerful experience for us.”
 
Chris Coleman says he and Laleh Mehran are in early talks about a possibly “W3FI” exhibit in Taiwan. He says a visit there would be  exciting. But mostly he just hopes the show keeps moving.
 
“I’d love to see it everywhere. It’s an experience that has more power the more people we’re able to share it with.”
 
Oscar Nominations
 
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences surprised no one Thursday when it nominated “Lincoln” for Best Picture. The Civil War film received more Academy Award nominations than any other film released last year.
 
Academy voters will likely have a difficult time making their choices. There are many excellent movies to choose from -- and some great performances -- in a year that produced more money for Hollywood than any other year.
 
“Lincoln” received a total of 12 award nominations, including one for best picture. “Life of Pi” was second, with 11 Oscar nominations.
Quvenzhane Wallis as "Hushpuppy" on the set of Beasts of The Southern Wild (Photo: Fox Searchlight / Jess Pinkham)Quvenzhane Wallis as "Hushpuppy" on the set of Beasts of The Southern Wild (Photo: Fox Searchlight / Jess Pinkham)
x
Quvenzhane Wallis as "Hushpuppy" on the set of Beasts of The Southern Wild (Photo: Fox Searchlight / Jess Pinkham)
Quvenzhane Wallis as "Hushpuppy" on the set of Beasts of The Southern Wild (Photo: Fox Searchlight / Jess Pinkham)

The film “Silver Linings Playbook” -- about a man rebuilding his life after a stay in a mental hospital -- received nominations for best director, best movie and best adapted screenplay. It also was nominated for all four major acting awards.
 
There were nine other best picture nominees, including “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Amour,” “Argo,” “Les Miserables” and “Django Unchained.”
 
The James Bond movie “Skyfall” received five Oscar nominations. That is more than any other Bond film. But, like every other movie starring the British secret agent over the past 50 years, it was not nominated for “Best Picture.” The second-biggest worldwide ticket seller -- the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises” -- did not receive any nominations at all.  
 
The star of “Lincoln” -- Daniel Day-Lewis -- and the star of “Les Miserables” -- Hugh Jackman -- were nominated for the Best Actor award. Also nominated were Denzel Washington for his performance in “Flight,” Bradley Cooper for “Silver Linings Playbook” and Joaquin Phoenix for his work in “The Master.”
 
Jessica Chastain was nominated for Best Actress for her work in “Zero Dark Thirty.” Also nominated were Jennifer Lawrence for “Silver Linings Playbook” and Naomi Watts for “The Impossible,” about a family caught in a tsunami. Nine year old Quvenzhane Wallis, of “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” was another nominee. She is the youngest person to ever receive an Oscar nomination. “Amour” star, Emmanuelle Riva was nominated for Best Actress. At 85, she is the oldest person ever to be nominated.
 
The 5,856 voting members of the Academy can start voting February eighth. The 85th Academy Awards will be presented February 24th in Hollywood.
 
“Les Miserables” Soundtrack
 
This week the album from the new movie “Les Miserables” went to number two on Billboard’s Top 200 albums chart. The recording was just released on December 21st. Some critics are wondering if the fast-rising movie soundtrack will oust Taylor Swift’s album “Red” from the number one position. Faith Lapidus has more on “Les Miserables” and some of its best performances.
 
The movie is based on a Broadway musical that was, in turn, based on the book “Les Miserables” by the nineteenth century French writer Victor Hugo. The story tells about the troubled lives of several poor, unlucky people.
Hugh Jackman as Jean ValjeanHugh Jackman as Jean Valjean
x
Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean
Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean

One is Jean Valjean, a criminal hiding his identity from the police as he struggles to become a better person. Hugh Jackman plays Valjean in the movie. Here he performs “The Confrontation” with Russell Crowe, who plays the police inspector seeking Valjean.
 
Anne Hathaway also stars in “Les Miserables” as the poor, single mother Fantine. Critics strongly praised her acting in the film. But they seemed even more excited by Hathaway singing, especially in this song, “I Dreamed a Dream.”
 
The songs in the film “Les Miserables” were not pre-recorded as they are in most movie musicals. All the singing was done live on the movie set during filming.
 
Two actors perform the part of Cosette, Fantine’s daughter. Ten year old Isabelle Allen plays Cosette as a little girl. “Les Miserables” is the young Briton’s first film.
 
We leave you with Isabelle Allen singing “Castle on a Cloud” from the film “Les Miserables.”
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
01/16/2013 2:13 PM
I like Hugh Jackman


by: Nica from: Philippines
01/14/2013 12:24 AM
Thanks, VOA. All my friends are excited to see "Les Miserables."
I like Isabelle Allen's singing of "Castle on a Cloud."


by: raoul from: chile
01/12/2013 11:17 PM
Is there a trailer ont "Le Misèrables?


by: BIN LA TRẮNG from: A14,HOÀNG QUỐC VIỆT,VN
01/12/2013 2:26 PM
GOOD BUT NEED BETTER

Learn with The News

  • An African student (C) practices moves as other Shaolin martial arts students look on during the inauguration ceremony of a martial arts training program for African students, at the Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng, Henan province, China, Sept. 25, 2013.

    Audio More Africans Seek Education in China

    Tens of thousands of Africans are studying in China. The country provides students with financial assistance for education to develop skills that Africa needs most. And the system makes friends in Africa for the Chinese. More

  • Rappers Vo Viet Phuong, 25, and Nguyen Trong Duc, 27, record the latest edition of Rap News Plus at Vietnam News Agency's television studio in central Hanoi, Vietnam, July 2014. (Marianne Brown)

    Audio Vietnam Uses Rap Music to Report the News

    The Vietnamese media industry is changing as it faces growing competition from the Internet. One website has come up with a way to reach out to young people. It uses rap music to report the news. More

  • This photo provided by the US Centers for Disease Control shows an Ebola virus. U.S. health officials are watching the Ebola outbreak in Africa. They say there is little risk that the deadly germ will spread to the United States. (AP Photo/CDC)

    Audio Liberia Closes Most Borders to Contain Ebola

    President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said her country is closing most of its borders. The government has also banned public gatherings and demonstrations in an effort to stop the spread of the Ebola virus. More

  • U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about new sanctions placed on Russia in Washington.

    Audio US, Europe Pressure Russia Over Ukraine

    President Barack Obama says the new actions are meant to increase pressure on those responsible for what he called Russia’s “illegal actions” in Ukraine. The measures are directed against Russia’s energy, arms and banking industries. More

  • Technician work at a uranium processing center in Isfahan, Iran.  The UN Atomic Energy Agency says Iran has converted its enriched uranium into a less dangerous form.

    Audio UN Agency: Iran Converts Enriched Uranium

    Uranium now in a less-dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons; US to release billions in Iranian property More

Featured Stories

  • Audio Artist Turns Plastic Bags Into Art

    Making art with found materials is not a new idea. An artist near Washington, D.C. just had her recycled art on exhibit at the Prince George’s African American Museum and Cultural Center in Maryland. She uses a material found in every American home. Plastic bags. More

  • Many Southerners approved the decision. But northern abolitionists spoke strongly against it.

    Audio Dred Scott Ruling Opens the Whole Country to Slavery

    The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Congress had no power to ban slavery in the new territories. The 1857 decision involved a man named Dred Scott. More

  • Medical Marijuana Kids

    Audio Marijuana Helps Children with Epilepsy

    People who support legalization of marijuana say some kinds of the plant offer extraordinary help for human health. For example, one kind of medical marijuana is reported to ease effects of epilepsy, a disease of the nervous system. More

  • Polar Bears Arctic 2006

    Audio From Birds to Bears, Animals Face Danger Around the World

    Hundreds of newly-identified plants and animals in Southeast Asia are in danger. Poachers killed a famous elephants in Kenya. And scientists are working to save polar bears population in Alaska and the Bering Sea. More

  • Audio Ice Cream Sweetens Visits to Maryland Farms

    Maryland’s so-called 'Ice Cream Trail' is 460 kilometers long. The state's agriculture secretary says itl brings valuable attention to the state’s dairy farms | American Mosaic More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs