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2021 OSCARS- What They Got Right, And What They Got Wrong

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Chloé Zhao and Nomadland make history and win top prizes at the Oscars.

The crew of Nomadland with their Oscars for Best Picture.

Last night was the long-awaited 93rd Academy Awards, after a very uniquely long (due to COVID) awards season, it was finally time to find out who would be taking home the golden statuettes. We knew from the get-go that things would be a little bit different than usual; Steven Soderbergh was directing it and wanted to make it feel like a film rather than an awards show. But we underestimated just how much Soderbergh would switch up the conventions and traditions we’ve come to know at the Oscars every year…

Yuh-jung Youn, the first Korean actress to win an Oscar, who won for Best Supporting Actress in Minari.

The Oscars switched things up a lot, and most people were unhappy with the changes; there were no performances of the nominated Original songs during the ceremony itself, there were virtually no clips from the films nominated that played throughout the ceremony, when Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Jon Batiste won Best Original Score for Soul, they didn’t play any of the Oscar-winning music, instead the winners awkwardly approached the stage with no sound other than applause. Another change that upset people was the in-memoriam section, which was accompanied by an usually upbeat song, and each person barely got a second of time on the screen. These were minor changed that most people didn’t like, but could look past, the biggest change that many say ruined the whole evening, though, came when the Academy announced that they would present Best Picture third from last. This decision was met with apprehension from most.

Daniel Kaluuya, who won Best Supporting Actor in Judas and the Black Messiah.

Although most thought that maybe the Academy placed Best Actor last so the final award could be a tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman, who was posthumously nominated for his performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. The Academy had invited his family, gave him an extra-long tribute during the in-memoriam segment, and a piece of artwork inspired by Boseman was given to all the nominees. It’s clear that the academy expected him to win. But then Joaquin Phoenix, who clearly would have rather been anywhere else, half-heartedly read out Anthony Hopkins’ name (who wasn’t able to attend as an 83-year-old during a pandemic), the Academy accepted on his behalf and the show ended. Not only did the academy take advantage of Boseman’s passing by restructuring the age-old tradition of Best Picture being the final award, but it backfired because the person who won the final award wasn’t there and was denied permission to join via Zoom. Because of this, Nomadland’s historic Best Picture sweep was not given the final celebration it deserved. It won Best Picture, and two more awards were left, one of which was Best Actor, and the winner wasn’t even able to attend. This left a bitter taste in most people’s mouths; not only did Boseman deserve to be honoured, or at least not taken advantage of, but Nomadland and Chloé Zhao deserved to have their big moment accepting the biggest award in the industry to close the most prestigious awards show in the industry. All in all, it was a very anti-climactic ending and left most people feeling disappointed; more people will remember the horrifically handled ending than will speak about Nomadland’s big win. That’s enough about the negative stuff now, after all, the Oscars are a celebration of the year’s films.

Emerald Fennel accepting her Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Promising Young Woman
Jamika Wilson, Mia Neal, and Sergio Lopez-Rivera accepting Best Hair and Makeup for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

While the ceremony itself was questionable, the results and winners were great all around, and putting personal preferences aside, I don’t think anyone can say that any of this year’s winners weren’t deserving and as a celebration of cinema and film over the past year, the films honoured finally got their deserving awards. It was a historic evening; Emerald Fennel picked up the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Promising Young Woman, making her the first woman in 13 years to win a screenplay award, Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson became the first black women to win for Best Hair and Makeup for their work on Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Yuh-Jung Youn became the first ever Korean Actress to win an Oscar, Frances McDormand joined the elite club of actors with three wins in the leading category and tied with Katheryn Hepburn as the actor with the most Academy Awards with 4 (although one of McDormand’s is for producing), Chloé Zhao became the first woman of colour and only the second woman ever to win Best Director (after Katheryn Bigelow won for The Hurt Locker in 2010), and Nomadland became the first ever Best Picture winner directed by a woman of colour, Nomadland became the first film to sweep Best Picture at all the major award shows since 12 Years a Slave in 2012 (CCA, DGA, PGA, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Oscar), it also swept director at all of those for Chloé Zhao. Nomadland is also a rarity because it is a Best Picture winner about a woman, very few Best Picture winners are about women. After winning Best Director, Actress, and Picture, Nomadland’s performance at this year’s Oscars is a triumph for women.

Nomadland Director, Chloé Zhao with both her Oscars for Best Director and Best Picture

Some other big wins include Daniel Kaluuya winning Best Supporting Actor for his role as Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah, Eric Messerschmidt’s work on Mank upset in the Best Cinematography category, beating the frontrunner Joshua James Richards’ NomadlandThe Father saw some love by taking home Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor in a leading role for Anthony Hopkins. While everyone will be a little sad that Boseman never got his moment at the Oscars, Boseman left an impact most actors only dream of through his role as Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and while it would’ve been nice to see him win an Oscar, Hopkins gave a stunningly devastating, career-best performance many are calling one of the top Best Actor winning performances ever, and he is more than worthy of the award. Most of the outrage about Boseman losing is not because Hopkins didn’t deserve it, but because of how the Academy handled it.

Pete Doctor and Dana Murray won the award for Best Animated Feature for Soul, marking Pixar’s 11th win in the category.
Chadwick Boseman, nominee for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Personally, I am ecstatic about the winners; as a champion of Chloé Zhao’s work and her intimate character study of a woman in her sixties who loses everything after the 2008 financial crash, I was very happy to see Nomadland take home to top prize. I was also elated to see Yuh-Jung Youn win for her masterful performance in Minari, and while any of the fantastic actresses nominated in the leading category could’ve won, I liked seeing Frances McDormand’s more understated subtle, nuanced performance get the recognition it deserved. However, while the number of good things outweigh the number of bad things, the final 20 minutes of the ceremony will always be tainted by how badly the Academy executed this year’s awards. The winners were fantastic and all deserving, the butchered ending of this ceremony has cemented the 93rd Academy Awards as one of the worst executed ceremonies in Oscars history.

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‘Return To Monkey Island’ – the beloved franchise is back!

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Devolver Digital / Lucasfilm Games

It’s been 13 years since the last Monkey Island instalment was released in 2009. Going back even further, it’s 32 years since the original game ‘The Secret Of Monkey Island’ was released on the Amiga in 1990. Created by game designers Ron Gilbert and Dave Grossman, it helped launch the point and click genre of adventure games onto a global scale, and introduced young and old gamers to a fun, family-friendly interactive adventure to capture the imagination.

You take control of a young wannabe pirate, Guybrush Threepwood, who arrives on a small island in the Caribbean with aspirations of becoming a – well – a real pirate! A whole host of colourful characters await him on his journey, including the Ghost Pirate LeChuck and Governor Elaine Marley. When the Governor is kidnapped by LeChuck who terrorises the entire Caribbean with his un-dead crew, it falls to you to help Guybrush assemble a crew, get a ship, set sail for the fabled Monkey Island, save Elaine and defeat LeChuck!

‘The Secret Of Monkey Island’ (1990)

This was followed by a hugely successful sequel in 1991; ‘The Secret Of Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge’ that expanded and improved on everything we had seen before. Years later in 1997 and under new management after Gilbert and his team parted ways, the third entry – ‘The Curse Of Monkey Island’ – helped introduce new blood to the franchise. New styles of graphics, interactive heads-up display and a full voice cast brought the series to life like never before.

In 2000, the fourth entry – ‘Escape From Monkey Island’ – was released that divided fans and critics. The heart was there, but the inclusion of 3D graphics and removal of the familiar mouse controls for PC was a big shift that didn’t win everyone over. It would be in 2009 when Telltale Games developed an episodic entry called ‘Tales Of Monkey Island’, returning some familiar point and click elements, the full voice cast and a very imaginative fantastical story.

2009 also signalled the revival of both original games with new special editions being released for PC and console. This breathed new life into the classics, bringing the established voice cast to record dialogue, new composition of the score and improved graphics and HUD. It also allowed players to switch between classic and special editions whilst playing for a truly immersive experience of old and new.

‘The Secret Of Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge’ Special Edition (2009)

 And then…all was quiet.

Fans cried out for more Monkey Island, but when Disney acquired LucasFilm Games in 2012 and the entire back catalogue of George Lucas, it seemed the adventures were well and truly over. However, in 2021 when Disney brought Lucasfilm Games back, a glimmer of hope was sparked. And then on April 1st 2022, Ron Gilbert announced the development of a brand new Monkey Island game. Being this was April Fool’s Day and Gilbert was known for his tongue-in-cheek jokes, there was a huge pinch of salt taken with the announcement. But just three days later, Devolver Development released the teaser trailer for ‘Return To Monkey Island’

 After two years of secret conversations with Disney and the old team including Gilbert, Grossman, original composer Clint Bajakian and voice actor Dominic Armato, a new story had been written for the 5th entry into the series. Described as both a direct continuation from LeChuck’s Revenge but with new elements that honour the previous games not under Gilbert’s design, it seems this is the game fans have been waiting years for.

A striking difference noted by many was the art style. While hardcore fans longed for a return to the classic pixel design of the original games, something of a nostalgic comfort blanket, artist Rex Crowle (of ‘Tearaway’ fame) brought the look into 2022 and then some. Taking a 2D style but with a cartoonish, almost paperfolded style, this entry looks nothing but unique and unlike anything that has come before. In order to keep the game fresh and appealing to new gamers and old, Gilbert couldn’t simply harken back to a game design that kept the series in the 90s. He had to take new, bold risks to be innovative and fresh. This looks just that.

‘Return To Monkey Island’ (2022)

With Gilbert and the team releasing mini teasers each Monday in a self-proclaimed Monkey Island Monday, critics and fans worldwide have lapped up everything the game has offered. It holds nods and winks the franchise as a whole (especially the originals) whilst giving us glimpses of new characters, islands and puzzles. The HUD retains the point and click charm but in a modern way. And with a full voice cast back to bring new and old characters to life, it seems this is the perfect time to hoist the main sails and set sail once more as we return to Monkey Island…

‘Return To Monkey Island’ will be available on PC via Steam, macOS and Nintendo Switch from Monday 19th September 2022.

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Manchester Comic Con Returns! With A Star Studded Lineup And More

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With the summer Movie, Comic Book & TV season in full swing with the likes of Stranger Things: Season 4 & Obi-Wan Kenobi currently airing to their respective streaming services and Jurassic World: Dominion amongst other anticipated projects on the horizon, There’s certainly a lot to look forward too over the coming months, And one of those is the return of Monopoly Event’s Manchester Comic Con, the event which promises to bring all the love of Pop Culture & More into one place! Here’s just a small sneak peak at what you can expect below…

Manchester Comic Con General Information Provided By Monopoly Events

The next Comic Con Manchester in the summer of 2022 promises to be an event to remember for comic, tv, and film culture fans across the globe as we bring you a phenomenal guest line-up including Star Trek‘ and Heroes legend Zachary Quinto, Teen Wolf stars Tyler Posey, Holland Roden, Shelley Hennig, Dylan Sprayberry, and Linden Ashby, Superman and Lois stars Tyler Hoechlin, Elizabeth Tulloch, Jordan Elsass, and Alex Garfin, the LEGENDS that are Lee Majors and Lindsay Wagner. Lesley Ann Brandt, D.B. Woodside, and Aimee Garcia from Lucifer, The Walking Dead star Chandler Riggs, Cobra Kai stars Martin Kove, Jesse Kove, Ron Thomas, and Tony O’Dell, Little Mermaid voice actor Jodi Benson, Supernatural‘s Emily Swallow, Bai Ling from The Crow, Police Academy‘s Lance Kinsey, and the sweetest of all reunions as we welcome Peter Ostrum, Paris Themmen, Julie Dawn Cole, Michael Bollner and Rusty Goffe from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory!

A guest line-up that already is truly unimaginable – and as always – it’s all by the fans for the fans.

Let us not forget our epic Traders Hall as well! Where you could buy everything from a dancing Gizmo plushie to a Baywatch lifebuoy! Finally, our league of loyal cosplayers were all in attendance with their amazing costumes and make up ready and willing to get in a selfie or 100!

The Star Studded Guest Line-up Provided By Monopoly Events

This is sure to be the pop culture event of the summer & one both you & I surely wont want to miss. Am I right?

To buy your tickets and find out more information, head over to the official Manchester Comic Con site before it returns to the BEC Centre, July 30-31.

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PARAMOUNT+ Reveals UK Launch Date, Pricing, Distribution Partners & More

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Paramount+, the global streaming service from Paramount Global, will launch in the UK and Ireland on 22 June 2022. After countless months of waiting It was announced by the company reporting their first-quarter earnings call on 3 of May, during which Paramount’s President and CEO, Bob Bakish, outlines global expansion plans for the streaming service. 

The ongoing momentum of Paramount+ will also see the service launch in South Korea in June, with further launches planned in Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland and Austria in the second half of the year. Additionally, in 2023, Paramount+ will launch in India in partnership with Viacom 18, as part of a recently announced agreement, and is poised to participate in this fast-growing market. 

“Paramount is known for its leading portfolio of premium entertainment brands and a robust content engine that fuels our rapidly expanding streaming service, Paramount+. This year will be monumental for our streaming strategy as we accelerate our global ambitions, rapidly expanding Paramount+ in Europe beginning with the UK, Italy, Germany, France and more by the end of this year and debut in Asia with South Korea in June, followed by India in 2023,” said Raffaele Annecchino, President and CEO, International Networks, Studios and Streaming, Paramount Global.  “With an already expansive global footprint and a strong, long-term market-by-market strategy, we are well-poised to continue our positive momentum.” 

Maria Kyriacou, President, Australia, Canada, Israel and UK, Paramount, said, “The addition of Paramount+ to our strong portfolio of free-to-air, pay-TV and streaming services will broaden the range of choice available to our audiences in the UK and Ireland. Paramount+ will be a one-stop destination for Paramount’s biggest brands, where fans of all ages can find exclusive original premium content, global hits, and discover a world of favourites from Paramount’s vast catalogue.” 

PRICING AND DISTRIBUTION

In the UK, Paramount+ will be available online at

https://www.paramountplus.com/

and on mobile and a wide range of connected TV devices via the Paramount+ app, via broad direct-to-consumer distribution through Apple, Amazon, Google, Roku® and Samsung, with more platforms to be announced in the coming months. Users will be able to sign up to the service for £6.99 per month/£69.90 per annum in the UK, after a free seven-day trial*.   

Paramount+ will launch on Sky platforms in the UK, Ireland, Italy, Germany and Austria in 2022 as part of a new multi-year distribution agreement that also includes the extended carriage of Paramount’s leading portfolio of pay TV channels. Sky Cinema subscribers will get the bonus of Paramount+ included at no extra cost. 

ROBUST CONTENT SLATE

Paramount+ will launch in the UK with a broad content slate of more than 8,000 hours of content for the whole family, spanning new and exclusive Paramount+ originals, hit shows and popular movies across every genre from Paramount’s world-renowned brands and production studios, including SHOWTIME®, Paramount Pictures, Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon.  

In addition, Paramount+ is home to some of the world’s most beloved franchises in the world. Audiences in the UK will have access to the Star Trek universe; and the library and new seasons of Taylor Sheridan’s critically acclaimed Yellowstone series. South Park and the MTV Shores 

will also be available, and kids and families franchises, this include SpongeBob SquarePants, PAW Patrol, Rugrats plus new originals based on Nickelodeon’s most beloved characters such as Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years.   

PARAMOUNT+ ORIGINALS

Some of the most anticipated Paramount+ and SHOWTIME® originals from the US, UK and other international markets will be available in the UK and Ireland when the service launches, including HALO, 1883, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, The Offer, Mayor of Kingstown, Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber, The First Lady, The Man Who Fell to Earth, Queen of the Universe and Jerry & Marge Go Large. 

These will join premium international scripted Paramount+ originals produced by VIS – the international studio division of Paramount Global – in association with independent production companies in the UK and around the world. Previously announced original UK dramas heading to Paramount+ include Sexy Beast, A Gentleman in Moscow, Flatshare, The Burning Girls, The Ex-Wife and The Blue. 

Scripted originals from around the world include

Los Enviados (The Envoys) (Mexico) and Cecilia (Mexico) – both of which have been renewed for a second season; Simon Beckett’s Chemistry of Death (Germany); The Signal (France); Bosé (Spain); Fallaci (Italy); At Midnight (Mexico); and more.   

Hours of original factual titles from the UK production community will also be available, including Haunted, The Box, Rise of the Tech Titans, MH370: The Lost Flight, Chalet Girls, LA Hairdressers, Fashion House, Pervert: Catching the Strip Search Caller and Girl Taken. 

KIDS AND FAMILY

Thousands of hours of Kids and Family content on the service will include Paramount+ Original series Fairly Odd Parents: Fairly Odder, iCarly S1 & S2, the reimagined Rumble and Big Nate. They will join original TV movies, including Honour Society, Promposal, Little Wing, Snow Day, Nicole From Last Night and Blue’s Big City Adventure. 

BLOCKBUSTER MOVIES

Paramount+ will offer unlimited access to blockbuster movies with new releases like

Scream 5, time-proven classics such as Grease and Star Trek, and family-friendly selections like PAW Patrol: The Movie, Clifford The Big Red Dog and more. 

EXCLUSIVE PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS

Also coming to the UK service this year are Paramount+ exclusives The Thing About Pam and Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons. They join other exclusive titles including South Park: Post Covid and South Park: Post Covid: The Return to Covid, as well as Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber, The First Lady and The Man Who Fell to Earth.  


Paramount+ is a global digital subscription video streaming service from Paramount that features a mountain of premium entertainment for audiences of all ages. Internationally, the streaming service features an expansive library of original series, hit shows and popular movies across every genre from world-renowned brands and production studios, including SHOWTIME®, BET, CBS, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures and the Smithsonian Channel™, in addition to a robust offering of premier local content. The service is currently live in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Nordics, and Australia.   

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