Fun Friday: Oscars

It is friday. The end to another fun filled week of tech and business. I am writing this on flight from LAX to SFO that has no wifi. So I am writing it in Google Docs on my phone and I will post it when I land.

I think we should do a fun friday today. We’ve got the Oscars happening this sunday. So let’s talk about the best films we saw in 2015.

My personal favorites were Mustang, a film about teenage girls growing up in a very traditional part of Turkey, and Meet The Patels, a film about an Indian American family’s desire to see their son have an arranged marriage. Both were indie films that did not get a lot of press but were exceptional in their ability to explain different cultures and ways of living.

I saw most of the big films that are nominated for Best Picture. None really touched me like the two I mentioned above. But the story told in Spotlight stayed with me as did the child in Room.

So those are the films that had the biggest impact on me last year. How about all of you?


Comments (Archived):

  1. jason wright

    i didn’t see a single new film in the last twelve months. in this age of the web i’m no longer able to suspend my disbelief.

    1. Jess Bachman

      I’m pretty sure that is in the DSM-5. See your doctor.

      1. jason wright

        this?…i did see a psychiatrist last November (due to episodes of temporal lobe epilepsy) and his assessment is that i’m completely mentally healthy.i just find the world we are now living in far more interesting than any film.

      2. Simone

        Jess, I am pretty sure that, having checked DSM, most of us would have all sorts of epiphanies, often exceeding the ‘severity’ of a decision to stop watching movies.

    2. Simone

      Interesting… I have made a decision about 8 years ago to stop reading fiction (especially classical literature) for very similar reasons and I make very few and rare exceptions. But I can tell you the Martian is a beautiful book,and I can’t imagine an engineer who wouldn’t love it.I couldn’t live without movies though, even if occasionally I switch between genres (favouring or banning certain genres temporarily) to match my mood.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Two responses:(1)> I can’t imagine an engineer who wouldn’t love it.I’ll try it if I get a chance, but as an engineer (my Ph.D. in applied math is actually from an engineering school, which is appropriate enough) I usually get disappointed in movies about space flight because the science and engineering look so poor. Star Wars is different and easier to take for the science/engineering because it is so far into the future that I can’t so easily complain!(2)> I switch between genres (favouring or banning certain genres temporarily) to match my mood.Yup! That’s why a discovery, recommendation engine that tries to say what movies you will like based on what you have watched before, maybe what Web sites you have visited, maybe your age, zip code, etc., is likely trying to answer an ill-posed question. Sorry Netflix. Instead, the engine needs more, likely for the moment, from you, that can let the engine somehow honor or get at more specifically what you have in mind at the moment. So: Right, when I designed my startup, I was thinking of you! Indeed, you may be picking a movie for some party for some children, and Netflix will totally fail!

        1. Simone

          I am referring to the book and as much as I like mat damon, the movie’s quality is far from the book, especially when it comes to meet very high standards (no irony). After I finished the book, I read an interview, the author is .. an engineer who found all that research in different fields and made a story out of it. I think the story is a beautiful tribute to what is best about our species, I actually think the movie trivialised and caricatured the book a little bit, so don’t see the movie because you would never read the book after. read the book if you have the time and you like it. I have no idea if what the guy was saying and doing was scientifically accurate, I don’t have the privilege to be able to assess the technical side of the story. but if you read the book and think it is accurate and smart and funny, I would be happy to hear it from you.

        2. Simone

          yes, I remember years ago when I started seeing adds of pages that I have just visited – still happens today, better said it used to happen before I got an add blocker. I remember thinking what a bad idea to assume that whatever pages I have visited in the past, I will want to keep on visiting for the rest of my life. I don’t think people hate advertising, I think people hate bad/lazy advertising. I hope improved advertising/recommendations will become available soon, alternatively I wish there were buttons for micro-payments on most platforms, I don’t know why this is not the case and I am still forced to choose between subscriptions or nothing. Good luck with your start up and share a link if it’s live

  2. William Mougayar

    …which begs the question: Why are the best films almost always not the ones that are Oscar nominated? It’s either an Indie or foreign movie that touch us the most. Hollywood movies are good for entertainment, mostly…and the Oscars is lots of pump and circumstance.

    1. LE

      Because the “academy” votes and the “academy” are people in the film industry who have their own particular slant and bias towards what is good and what is not.[1] [2] Stupid touchy feely liberal long drawn out and quite often boring pieces which showcase the range of this actor or that actor or a particular director. A brain that is familiar with film and it’s history is not the average man. To the average man it’s all about entertainment. Having a good time. Some movies of course are good in both ways and those typically do very well.[1] This is similar to what is happening in politics right now. The pundits and the people who are all about politics and are quite knowledgeable about that subject think that voters are ideologically pure in their thoughts. But a large percentage of voters don’t really care about that or even third rail issues. They are willing to accept a candidate that strays from what the media thinks a Republican or Democrat should be.[2] This happens in tech as well. An example is techies thinking it is cool to show the startup sequence in a computer (Microsoft) and assuming that that is something that everyone else (normals) should and will care about as well. Of course nothing could be further from the truth.

  3. Salt Shaker

    The only thing lamer than these award shows is if an institution like MOMA or the Whitney decided to name a “Best Painting” or “Best Sculpture” of the year. Totally lame.Spotlight was an extremely well done film, though.

    1. LE

      While I wouldn’t call it lame, my favorite “tool” show is Kennedy Center Honors. Something about that bugs me to no end.Here is a good clip from one honoring Bruce Springsteen. It’s funny to see Barrack and Michelle get down to the music. This one is “Glory Days”. I love the neck gear that they wear when being honored.……

    2. fredwilson

      I agree with you and posted about that a while back. But its a good excuse to talk about the films we liked this year

  4. BillMcNeely

    Dope, Bridge of Spies, Sicario Straight Out of Compton, Joy , The Seven Five, The Jinx, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of a Reveloution, (T) Error

  5. iggyfanlo

    Maybe it was growing up Catholic and being an altar boy in the 1970s and “hearing” about things, but spotlight seemed very real to me

  6. Brad Lindenberg

    I liked The Big Short and The Martian!

  7. leeschneider

    Woman in Gold, staring Helen Mirren. Thought it was a great movie.

  8. JoeK

    Mad Max for the cinematic experience.

  9. Jeff Long

    Long time AVC reader, first time poster! My best friend from growing up is the director of CARTEL LAND, which is nominated for “Best Documentary”. Really incredible story of US based and Mexico based militias that have formed to take on the impacts of the various drug cartels. It’s a documentary but has a Hollywood thriller feel to it. It’s available on Netflix, iTunes, and Amazon!

    1. BillMcNeely

      I liked that film as well!

    2. faresg

      One hell of a documentary I hear

    3. creative group

      The real life Sicario..

  10. Ana Milicevic

    I enjoyed The Martian more than I thought I would (since I really liked the book and read it in one sitting, I was almost sure the film would be a let-down and it was quite the opposite). Bridge of Spies was a standout, and The Big Short was exceptionally well put together. Incidentally I’ve seen all three in a theater. Of the three, normally I’d only watch The Martian in a theater but I was traveling so the other two fell in to theater activities as well.I’ve got Trumbo, Spotlight, Creed and Carol in my queue now — these are all films I’m looking forward to but wouldn’t think to go and see them in a theater.Not really paying attention to the Oscars except for the red carpet and outfits. To @salt shaker’s point below: it’s like picking the best painting or sculpture.

    1. Twain Twain

      I LOVED ‘The Martian’ because it’s about one person more than meeting the unexpected challenges that arise, team camaraderie and slingshots round planets (haha).”No person left behind” is a great lesson for us founders.Matt Damon was wry, witty, endearing, heartbreaking and totally engaging in the role.

      1. Ana Milicevic

        Yes! Something about Damon’s ability to switch from goofy and nerdy to physical and serious at a moment’s notice is a great fit for this role.Also got me thinking about the combination of an engineering/physics skillset and a botanical/medical one. Biohacking is an interesting field.

        1. Simone

          Love Matt.Another thought I had when reading/seeing the Martian is why people think they would want to live on Mars? Being an immigrant is difficult enough (here, on Earth!), working for an underground (subway, tube) company must be very difficult, but living a life like Matt had to put up with everyday just to survive?! Makes for a great cinema/book story, but who would want to live like that? Even if we imagine they build some dome where it is safe to breath and it’s not cold etc, still it’s nothing more than a lab like life, no windows and anyway, not much to see out the windows.I am serious, why would a human want to live like this? And I think the question is important, because I wish someone like Elon would focus all his attention on Earth and to save this wonderful planet from ourselves in time,I can’t help thinking that this idea to colonise Mars has to do with the idea in Elysium, another Matt Damon movie (that is great the first half, but has a Hollywood-cringey second half)

      2. Lawrence Brass

        I watched The Martian at the cinema, Ex Machina at home, some Netflix binges. A big screen at home and streaming is killing going out to the movies, at least for me. I miss real popcorn at home though and usually fell asleep so it takes me a couple of days to complete a movie. Need more leisure time!Reading everyone at AVC and combining it with the Oscar awards will make the perfect curated list of movies I have to watch.

        1. Simone

          As much as I love Matt Damon and go see all his movies, the book is so much better than the movie – and the movie was decent too! And yes, I was happy that Matt was chosen to play the main character.

      3. Simone

        <3 Matt

      4. Steve Lincoln

        This quote reminds me of a similar scene in Arthur C. Clarke’s book, “Childhood’s End.” The main character, who is the last remaining person on earth, thinks to himself that he had always been a pretty good pianist, but now he was the best in the world.

    2. Jess Bachman

      Yeah, I thought the movie was better than the book. It’s not that the book was bad, but it felt like the book was just the movie with extra stuff. I approved of the changes in the movie as well. Ironman scene was much better.

    3. Samrat Irani

      I have less regard for the Oscars as I consider it ‘diversity-challenged’.Why would not a great Indian film make it to the Oscars ? This movie is a massive hit all over the world last year and watched by perhaps, a billion and a half. still counting. Many more people watched it than those that watched the Oscar- nominated films combined.…When the so-called Hollywood films have been dealing with space and ice forever, this movie on human emotions and earthly action is what catapulted the audience globally.

      1. Ana Milicevic

        I haven’t seen this but it looks absolutely spectacular – everyone I know who has seen it raves about it (especially the large army battle scene that you can glimpse in the preview).I get the whole ‘why isn’t this featured’ at the Oscars impulse – I’d challenge that with asking what is it that makes the Oscars relevant in a global context? Increasingly the answer is not much – they’re Hollywood’s award show, conceived when Hollywood was the only place movie studios did epic productions (and I won’t go into what epic means since its very definition has changed dramatically since the Oscars became a thing). So I’d say don’t think it’s a slight that productions from other regions aren’t included as prominently as Hollywood fare and don’t afford attention to the Oscars if that’s not your jam. I certainly don’t.

        1. awaldstein

          They may not be globally relevant but they are certainly globally economic to the film’s economic success. And to the scale of the actors themselves.This ties back to why I believe that someone like Netflix will simply buy a small theatre chain as a loss leader to insure that it gets Oscar nominations.Or maybe–this is the beginning of the end of the Oscar brand–even so going to be a long and profit driving demise.

          1. Ana Milicevic

            Here’s an interesting data set to nerd out over – the 100 most profitable box office movies of 2015 globally:…Of the 100, 20+ are big budget non-Hollywood (many were never released at the domestic/US box office). It’s also interesting to see some films that were widely panned as flops domestically (Chappie, Tomorrowland, and Fantastic Four come to mind) rank so highly globally. Doesn’t look like too many Oscar candidates are on this list. The Academy certainly isn’t reflective of the viewing public which is probably a more significant indicator of their declining cultural relevance than anything else.

          2. awaldstein

            Nothing I like better than getting a thorough smack down from a good chunk of data.So the real question is–how do people find things as the channels as the networks/channels are again the content makers?Gonna reread some of the classics on the Hollywood study system as we are reliving a big chunk of it.

          3. LE

            This ties back to why I believe that someone like Netflix will simply buy a small theatre chain as a loss leader to insure that it gets Oscar nominations.That’s interesting but you have to wonder if the Academy would then change the exhibition requirements at some point. (See below) Also, why buy a chain? Must be a way to just pay “slotting” fees. Surely there are those that do this. If you own the chain it’s not as if showing the film is free (ie opportunity costs, fixed expenses). A version of slotting fees seems like a good alternative.Noting this which I just found:…The first film to deliberately seek Oscar nominations as a marketing strategy was The Deer Hunter in 1978. After a disastrous preview screening of the lengthy Vietnam War epic in Detroit, Universal turned to another producer, Allan Carr, with both Broadway and Hollywood experience, for advice on how to successfully market a depressing film. He realized that, with such a grim subject and brutal depictions of war and torture, the only way viewers would seek the film out was if it had been nominated for Academy Awards. Carr, once the producers had hired him as a consultant, arranged for two two-week screenings at a single theater in New York and Los Angeles before the year ended, the minimum requirements for Oscar eligibility at that time.

          4. awaldstein

            Cool on the Deer Hunter–I’m a geek and didn’t know that.For the rest it’s anyone’s guess but buying some theatres is a cheap solution compared to the cost of content.

      2. LE

        This movie is a massive hit all over the world last year and watched by perhaps, a billion and a half. still counting. Many more people watched it than those that watched the Oscar- nominated films combined.Because it’s not about youtube hit counts or that kind of popularity, that’s why. If that was what it was all about they could just do a sorted list of revenue or seats filled. Noting by the way that many good films are ones w/o actual commercial appeal because in the end this is art we are talking about.Here is what I think was a “great” Indian Film. Monsoon Wedding. This is good because for people not raised in that culture it’s a typical “fish out of water” offering. You could actually make films about any cultulte that Americans don’t know about but would find interesting.…Here is another: “My big fat greek wedding”:……

        1. Samrat Irani

          This movie I was referring is not a made-for-youtube. this is in theatres worldwide.the chinese version is underway for the mainland market.i think at some point, a popular film that made the highest collection and filled the seats in the theatres will have to make its way to the oscars.the basic emotions are universal, so should the appreciation.

          1. LE

            The films that I gave clips of are not “made for youtube” either.

    4. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Still haven’t gotten to The Martian yet 🙁 I need a clone who can watch all my shows for me.

      1. Ana Milicevic

        I think you’ll really like it (when you do get to it).

      2. Simone

        While I could watch Matt Damon peeling potatoes for hours, or just doing nothing, in this case I strongly recommend the book. The movie is at least decent, but the book is brilliant, not to mention it was written by an engineer who went on to research what this experience would be like. I am afraid if you just see the movie, you wouldn’t get the hype, the movie is decent for sure, but the book is brilliant.

      3. Twain Twain

        THIS is a reason to watch it.

    5. mikenolan99

      I also liked the understated diversity – gender and race were never a focus, though this may have been the most diverse film I can recall.

  11. Tom Labus

    Bridge of Spies.A nuanced story told incredibly well.

    1. Girish Mehta

      Enjoyed it. Mark Rylance is a wonderful actor.

    2. Vasudev Ram

      The word “bridge” and the post being about the Oscars reminded me of this book:…which was also made into a movie starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep.”The novel is one of the bestselling books of the 20th century, with 50 million copies sold worldwide.”Now that’s a true unicorn!

      1. Girish Mehta

        “This kind of certainty comes but once in a lifetime”

  12. Fares

    Have you seen Theeb? Nominated in the Foreign Language category, awesome film

  13. MelkiSch

    The big short => Great acting, very informationalEx machina => Great esthetic and triggers interesting discussionsSicario => Benicio Del Toro at his best

  14. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Only saw one movie in a theater in 2015, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I saw it with my two little kids, who were both seeing their first Star Wars film in a theater.I think it had exactly the impact that the filmmakers intended. My kids were electrified and I kept getting teary-eyed. Ha! But here’s to the debut of Rey, which is really really important.Ex Machina was fantastic (and by a first-time filmmaker).I wish I could nominate Mr. Robot for an Oscar!

    1. Tom Labus

      Ex Machina was great

    2. LE

      First date I had with my first girlfriend was at the first Star Wars. Was never a fan of that genre for some reason and actually didn’t care for it in particular. I remember thinking Carrie Fisher was cute though.

    3. creative group

      Kirsten Lambertsen:We had the pleasure of watching Ex-Machina while awaiting Sicario (Great action movie similar to Heat) to begin. Think you can duplicate the dance scene moves? Two left feet you say?:-) stuffy, left foot, uptight amoung us find this intellectual primitive.Dance on Kirsten

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        The dance scene was brilliant. Oscar Isaac is mesmerizing no matter what he does.

        1. Lawrence Brass

          He is such a good actor, the character he plays is a real AH.

    4. Girish Mehta

      Yup, The Force Awakens is on my list as well.The other two of 2015 for me were Bridge of Spies and Bajirao Mastani.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Wow – that is the definition of “lavish”!

        1. Samrat Irani

          one more.. well synchronized arts composition, both in dance and music…

          1. LE

            It’s an art form for sure and perhaps if we were raised in the US appreciating that type of entertainment we’d go to movie theaters and watch that type of Bollywood production. But the fact is, we weren’t. [1][1] Just like they don’t watch traditional US Football in India in large numbers. Do they? That was a guess on my part actually..

          2. Samrat Irani

            No , they don’t watch American Football. Nor does the Europeans, South Americans, Africans, Australiasians. For it is not a sport festival, rather a beer festival. 1. Non-Americans do not tolerate timeouts in sports and war. It diffuses the whole game watching experience. Most of the popular sports in that part of the world are played against teams representing their individual countries so any stops during the game is considered a ‘losing’ strategy. Sport is as much considered as a battle between two fierce competitors as it is about a players tenacity and skill.2. In-game coachingNow this adds an absolute irrelevance to the game. Nowhere in the world you see this kind of absurdness in a major sporting event. The whole idea of a team of players making a rapid and conscientious decisions during the flow of the game thereby influencing the outcome in their favor is lost completely in any american sport.Just so the context in today’s discussion is about Oscars, i believe they will have to glorify the movies that have a global appeal as to make sure the american audience are not settling for any less, more so when good things are happening around the world.

          3. PhilipSugar

            Just so you know U.S. Football Revenue and Basketball revenue outside the U.S. are both are more individually than all of Bollywood revenue right?If you count U.S. revenue, not even close.

          4. Samrat Irani

            Only if you apply the conversion rate. If both dollars and rupees were peanut-equivalent, Bollywood revenue will be many million bags of peanuts over bball and fball.The metric here is the audience count, not the revenue numbers

          5. PhilipSugar

            Anyway, don’t want to get in an argument.But war certainly is very heavily coached and has mostly timeouts.If you don’t think the game of American Football is very fluid you really don’t understand and certainly have never played, and they will have a team in Europe by the end of this century.Nothing wrong with saying Bollywood is great, but you can’t dismiss those huge sports.

          6. sigmaalgebra


          7. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Captivating! I think there are some ladies in my family who would enjoy this tremendously. Everything is so stunningly beautiful.

        2. LE

          I always find big deal weddings of any type a bit ridiculous. All of this effort and expense going into one day when what matters is what happens after that one day. I mean if you have tons of money it’s a fine way to spend it. But for many people it’s a big expense that if not for societal pressure they would be better off avoiding. Things that rich people used to do that now not so rich people do as well.The first girl that I was engaged to? Her parents were teachers. They were going to take out a mortgage on their house to pay for the wedding. Engagement was called off for unrelated reasons. Dodged a bullet on that one (only to take a bullet on my first marriage).All of this custom and culture by the way is about control of the elders.

          1. Lawrence Brass

            Overspending is always a bad thing, but rituals and celebration are absolutely necessary, for a lot of reasons. Has to do with appreciation, with respect, in my opinion. If you come to my house you will get the best wine, the best dinner I can prepare for you, the best coffee. That is my way of showing you my appreciation.I know that some people may just do the same to show off, but it is equally valuable, at least for me.

          2. Samrat Irani

            You are right. Besides all the the things you mentioned, it is also about the social acceptance, of say, a wedding. For some cultures a celebration that are not over one’s means is usually considered as a shame to the guests.

          3. sigmaalgebra

            > rituals and celebration are absolutely necessary,In some cases, especially what should be the most important, say, marriage or politics, it is too easy and way too common to fake the meaning.

          4. Lawrence Brass

            I agree with you in that perhaps not everybody participating in a ritual is there for the same reason, some people actually hate rituals and feel obliged, some just fake it. They shouldn’t.I like the new year celebrations, wasteful and colourful fireworks blasting in the air, a glass of champagne, a hug if you are lucky.

          5. Simone

            You don’t have to agree. This is why there are all sorts of celebrations on this planet – big and small, lavish or not. I don’t get people trying to convince other people of their version of truth (referring here too any benign topic, like weddings for example)

        3. sigmaalgebra

          Gads. Ugly. What’s wrong with the left side of her mouth? The architecture, music, dancing, ugly. Upsetting. Hideous.

          1. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Perhaps you’ll find this more to your liking

          2. sigmaalgebra

            Yes, that is somewhat better if only because it is intended to be humorous. The movie, however, was scary: That guy, sitting there like some fiend — no expression, no response, no connection. Scary guy. Then that poor girl with whatever wrong with her mouth. Then that hideous architecture. And we were supposed to take it seriously, not as a joke. So, the joke was easier to take.

      2. Samrat Irani

        BM is a great movie. Too bad the american viewers are missing out on some of the classic epics happened around the world.I strongly believe Oscars to be a platform where movies of all genres and sensibilities will have to brought forth to the global audience as some of the underlying emotions are common across all cultures.american audience are restricted to just mars, sex and crime. one reason why a movie like Titanic only comes once in an american lifetime.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          > emotions are common across all cultures.In a fundamental sense, likely. But the cultures are enormously different, and much of the interest in a story is dependent on not just what is common to all cultures but some of what is particular to the culture of the story.Also, in a given culture, basic social competitiveness drives the complexity of the culture as far as possible meaning that it takes a lifetime to keep up on one culture which means that really understanding another culture is next to impossible. Net, between China, Japan, India, Spain, and the US, for any two of those, there is not much in the common audience. The cultures are too different.Do much better with the US, Canada, England, Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy, Sweden, and Germany.Audience common to Hollywood and Bollywood? Not much.

      3. Vasudev Ram

        Thanks for mentioning Bajirao Mastani. Sounds interesting. Just read the Wikipedia article about it:…Also the one about Bajirao I:…Pune – the location of the historical incidents – and surroundings have many descendants of the dynasty (the Peshwas) portrayed in the movie. One comes across them now and then, you can tell by the surnames.And in the old part of town (near their capital Shaniwarwada, portrayed in the movie), there are many juice stalls selling a milkshake variant called the Mastani. It’s lavish, like their lifestyles were …Googled and found a nice article about the mastani:…Whatever else one may say of them, those kings and queens sure “lived life kingsize”.

    5. Eddie Wharton

      Mr. Robot was fantastic. Every single episode got a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        I didn’t know that! Wow! I’m re-watching it now.

    6. Simone

      me too, Mr. Robot is very good, looking fwd the next series.

  15. LE

    Meet The PatelsStarted to watch that on Netflix and thought it was good enough to stop and watch it with my wife. Still waiting to do that.

  16. pointsnfigures

    Star Wars is too obvious a choice. Martian was decent. Good story. I didn’t see too many movies for some reason this year and that is a shame.

    1. Simone

      Martian is (only) a decent movie, but a brilliant book, if you have the time

  17. Barabare

    The best film I saw this year was the Oscar nominated animated short film “World of Tomorrow”, by Don Hertzfeldt. It is only 17 minutes and available on Netflix. I think this crowd would especially love it, given the sci-fi / tech aspects of the short.

  18. kevando

    No one else waits for the Oscars to tell them what to watch? :p

  19. Dan Conway

    Brooklyn. Understated. A reminder that you don’t see people cry at airports anymore because we’re no longer saying goodbye. We’ve forever lost Brooklyn’s longing. We’ll text them in 30 seconds, Skype or Instagram…. so immigration doesn’t exist. People don’t leave their lives behind, their lives come with them.

    1. Simone

      Sorry if I misunderstand your comment and I didn’t see Brooklyn. But if you say that people don’t leave their lives behind, you are probably not an immigrant 🙂

  20. Gary Chou

    Creed was fantastic. Ryan Coogler is a genius.

  21. JLM

    .Brooklyn, Bridge of Spies, the Big Short, Cartel-landJLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. Girish Mehta

      Welcome. Didn’t see you here for a while I think.(Expected Response: Never Complain, Never Explain).

    2. Lawrence Brass

      I was also wondering about your whereabouts. Good to see you alive.

      1. JLM

        .Been in Mexico with no Internet.Burned to a crisp.Starting work on the WALL.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. Lawrence Brass

          The only thing I can say is..Well Played!

        2. sigmaalgebra

          Yes, yes, yes, but, but, but, “who’s going to pay for it?” Who’s going to get them to pay for it? How will they get them to pay for it? Aren’t there some things we can think of that need, or say we need, to do first that we can take another 50 years doing before we build that wall?You’ve been investigating applications of large, pre-fab, reinforced concrete panels?You’ve already modified your engineering drawings to make the wall “10 feet higher”? And the foundation 20 feet deeper? What about two parallel walls with an no-man’s land between?What are we going to do when someone gives a speech on the Mexican side of the wall and says, “Mr. President, tear down this wall!”?Maybe someone will say, “Good fences make good neighbors.” Or claim that life is much nicer without years of that constant, really loud “giant sucking sound.”.

          1. sigmaalgebra

            That’s a total riot!Once I went with a party, a men’s yacht trip, to Canada for dinner. Checking in at the counter with the really nice Canadian women, I joked that, here we were, the crude, crass, ugly Americans, and she readily agreed with me!The US is like a quite bright, highly determined, overactive, undisciplined, poorly socialized child, makes lots of mistakes, creates lots of big messes, but is the country that did Intel, Microsoft, Cisco, the Internet, Google, Facebook, sequenced DNA, dominates the Nobel prizes, medical research, and more. It developed ICBMs and more missiles to shoot down ICBMs.Yes, Canada does movies. Anne of Green Gables is a totally sweetheart movie, what every US boy should want as a sister or girlfriend and what every man should want as a daughter or wife. In contrast, the US did Star Wars! Canada has cheap pharmaceuticals developed, however, likely in the US.

  22. Daniel Vogel

    The movie that touched me the most, by far, was Cartel Land. The movie was specifically touching to me given that I’m from Mexico. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it for it’s uncanny ability to intimately capture one of the most complex issues Mexico, and many countries affected by the drug trade, face.

    1. Simone

      I will watch it because of your comment, thank you. It must be so difficult for you to read the media or see presidential campaign speeches, when you know the reality and how complicated the reality is.

  23. Ryan Randall

    This year I have seen the following films nominated for Best Picture: The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Max Max and the Martian. Each was quite good, with the exception of The Big Short which was underwhelming. Granted I might be biased, as I worked at one of the hedge funds short the same trade as the characters portrayed by Carrell and Bale. Of this group, my favorite was Bridge of Spies, as the performance by Mark Rylance was mesmerizing.My favorite film of the year was Straight Outta Compton (“SOC”). SOC was nominated for Best Original Screenplay, but surprisingly not included for Best Picture. As an undergraduate student at UCLA from 1987-1992, I vividly recall the release of NWA’s iconic album. The cast of SOC did a magnificent job of portraying the many strong emotions on the screen. O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Ice Cube’s son) was fantastic, as was Corey Hawkins (Dr. Dre) and Jason Mitchell (Easy-E). Paul Giamatti, in his classic style, was superb in his portrayal of NWA manager Jerry Heller.The good news is that SOC received the Best Picture award from Russell Simmons’ All Def Movie Awards.

  24. creative group

    Contributors:There no doubt was a lack of diversity in the selection process of the Academy Awards. The average age of those selecting are over 65 and white men. These members have voted and identified with which they are comfortable with. The built in entitlement, protecting the status who, etc. Movies that resonates with them are stories of slavery (12 years A Slave, Glory, Driving Miss Daisy, MoneyBall, The Help, etc., facts)But that being said including members who are diverse, young and culturally aware would not mean anything if their selections were based upon the identical views as those just selecting white only actors. Voting for an exceptional movie is what the entire process should be about.The decision makers will need to want diversity in hiring minority Directors Steve McQueen, Lee Daniels, F Gary Gray, writers, actors, etc who are talented.For those who don’t get it (The usual suspects, the endangered species, they are against us brother types) you are not expected to get it. So no effort to change your ancient and withering away views.If Leonardo DiCaprio doesn’t win for that grusome Reverant making him into the Susan Luci of film is apparent)Matt Damon in Martian is the only film close that could knock him off. (Trumbo gumbo, the media is pushing that. Not even in the same stratosphere as the aforementioned. Bad makeup The Short was a great story but not in same room.

  25. Sebastian Wain

    I don’t think 2015 was a good year for watching new films. I enjoyed Inside Out (9 points) since it included several details for the adult audience (e.g: the color of the balls at the end). Far from the Madding Crowd (8 points) was another good film. I also enjoyed Bridge of Spies (9 points).The last indy film with the biggest impact on me was from 2014: Frank (8 points).

  26. denmeade

    Unusually for me I haven’t seen many of the nominated films this time around but Spotlight and 45 Years both made an impression.

  27. sigmaalgebra

    > Both were indie films that did not get a lot of press but were exceptional in their ability to explain different cultures and ways of living.Fred, good luck with that. Congrats if you can do it.I concluded I can’t get that understanding and just gave up: I try to understand the US and suspect I’d do about as well with Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the British Isles.The Spanish and Portuguese speaking parts of the world? There might be some parts of Spain I could understand, but otherwise, it all looks too strange to me. E.g., just in music, say, the Three Tenors, the Spanish Plácido Domingo and José Carreras and the Italian Luciano Pavarotti, I catch on to Pavarotti right away, one of my favorites, but not to the first two — somehow to me the sense, the art, of their music, even on the same music by Puccini and Verdi, is just too different, too foreign to me. As much as I like classical music, I don’t get the other two.For Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Columbia, Mexico, etc., I don’t get them: I read the news, notice the events, see the images, and I fail to see how all that makes sense. From what little I’ve seen about some of the native South American tribes, okay, they look mostly understandable. I conclude: There’s something about Spanish culture I just don’t get.From all I’ve seen, I’ve got a shot at understanding from the boot of Italy and the Black Sea north to the Arctic and from the Pyrenees east to the Urals, France, the Low Countries, Germany, Austria, the Baltic countries (likely not most of the Balkans), the Scandinavians. E.g., in music and math, Russia seems terrific.For India, Pakistan, essentially all of Africa and Asia, not a chance: To me, India and Pakistan are totally beyond comprehension: From all I’ve seen, heard, read, I have no idea how people could think, act, and live like that. Much of that culture looks mysterious, maybe not really harmful but, then, irrelevant, and too much of the rest looks really upsetting. It’s been so upsetting, without my ability to understand, that I just give up and don’t want to hear about it anymore. To me, the dress, architecture, music, values, food, and lifestyle all look, way too often, first-cut, in short, hideous, maybe suitable for a horror movie.Somehow the difference is deep: E.g., for Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, I hope he is doing good things for Microsoft, and maybe he is, but when I look at him or hear him speak, I can’t appraise him, can’t read his tone of voice, voice articulation, facial expressions, body language, can’t guess what he is thinking or intending. Somehow the difference is deep.I guess, my father’s name was English, and my mother’s maiden name was German. So, my roots go back to England and Europe. But there’s more to my roots than just those two names or origins.If Fred can understand such cultures, fine. For me, I can’t get even a start, gave up, too often got upset and, thus, just don’t want to pay attention anymore.So, thanks Fred; I’ll be sure not to see those two movies! Essentially every movie I’ve seen about India has made the place look just awful, and upsetting, to me — the Elizabeth Taylor Elephant Walk, the David Lean Gandhi, and whatever others. For the music, I’d rather hear a recording of dropping from a rooftop onto concrete 500 pounds of old, ceramic dishes or two tons of scrap iron. The architecture, out of a nightmare. If art is communication, interpretation of human experience, emotion, then from the art of India their emotions and experience must be totally defeated resignation to misery.

    1. Nate

      You must be trump supporter.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        You must be one of those immigrants who doesn’t know the English language and, thus, not on your way to US citizenship.But, do not let your heart be troubled because the US is big on education, including remedial education. So, likely a local community college will be able to give you a course in English as a second language, courses in English reading and writing, and then courses in reading comprehension.Then with some selected works in English literature, you will be able to get some basic progress in socialization and, then, understanding of people and society. So, look into, say, jealousy and duplicity?Then with some work in math and physical science, you will be able to start to understand careful thinking.For India, if you are not from there, don’t have a family background from there, are not exceptionally well informed and insightful (doubtful in this case), and believe that you do understand the culture of India, then you are engaging in the biggest lie of all, one to yourself.Then you can try again here. See you in about, if you hurry, 10 years?

        1. Nate

          Do you do any work or just keep rambling on this blog?

          1. sigmaalgebra

            I never ramble, and after doing well in your course in reading comprehension you will see that.

          2. Nate

            when i fart, you inhale. when i am done, you clean.

          3. sigmaalgebra

            You have taken the standard, predictable path on Internet fora of someone who has poor reading comprehension, doesn’t understand what was written, gets angry, doesn’t know what to say, says something but is so inarticulate they just make themselves look still more foolish, totally neglects discussing any issues rationally, leaps to ad hominem attacks, and ends with scatological insults.Are you learning yet?

          4. Nate

            FWIW, the last couple of abusive messages were by someone else using the same handle. Someone seems really ticked off.

          5. sigmaalgebra

            Regardless,fuck you idiotic ancestral moron!!

        2. Nate

          Please don’t speak for rest of us Americans. You are disrespectful to other countries and cultures.

          1. sigmaalgebra

            You are having a really tough time with reading comprehension: In no way did I claim to be speaking for anyone else, certainly not for all Americans. Indeed, I offered congrats to Fred if he could understand other cultures. And I would suspect that generally the AVC audience would be, especially for Americans, relatively good at understanding other cultures.That course in reading comprehension is waiting for you.

        3. Nate

          simply put, fuck you dude. goes on to prove your brain is smaller than your asshole

    2. Lawrence Brass

      Being half hispanic and half anglo myself, I have always been amazed by the issue you are talking about. I think that there are quite a few people in the US, and I say this with all due respect, that really ignore the rest of the world or see it through incredibly limited and simple stereotypes. If you look at the issue the other way round, that is, how the rest of the world perceives the US, ‘we’ have the benefit of having an infinite supply of cultural information flowing out the US thanks to Hollywood, TV, music, marketing, etc. We are watching you.Of course it doesn’t matter if you really don’t care, after all each one of us was raised and educated to become who we are, can’t change that. The language, the food we eat, the music we like, how we relate to each other.The point I am trying to make is that, if you are trying to build a business on the internet, that means a global business and being global today is more than just exposing an IP address to the world. It is a deep effort. Its understanding the world as a whole, with all its races, cultures, nuances. It is not easy but it is necessary. Do not embrace it if you don’t feel to, but at least consider implementing multiculturalism.The only company I know that excels doing this is Apple, their involvement in China in particular is amazing. This explains a great part of their success.So don’t close your eyes, open your mind, grab your backpack and go for a walk. You will be amazed.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        > Of course it doesn’t matter if you really don’t careNo, I believe it matters. But, I can’t do it. I give up.I can understand apple pie right away. A Sachertorte, sure — made some good ones. Same for French desserts. Some Chinese Dim Sum — not so much.> The point I am trying to make is that, if you are trying to build a business on the internet, that means a global business and being global today is more than just exposing an IP address to the world. It is a deep effort. Its understanding the world as a whole, with all its races, cultures, nuances. It is not easy but it is necessary.Right. So, copper wire is the same everywhere but still carries the Internet of all cultures, Hollywood, Bollywood, whatever.From a long time ago, Google has been getting more revenue from outside the US than inside. How? Their search engine and Web site are like the copper wire, close to common to all cultures.Some people make glass bottles, but can put anything in them you want, wine from vinifera grapes, wine from native North American grapes, apple cider, German beer, Russian vodka, laundry bleach, sodium hydroxide for cleaning drains (much the same as Australian wines?).In a sense, my project is to serve such cultural differences. The content is totally dependent on the user and their inputs from their culture. E.g., there is next to no natural language on the site.The basic math works around the world, solar system, universe as much as copper wire does. E.g., in the set of all real valued random variables X with expectation E[X^2] finite, a sequence that is Cauchy convergent in L^2 is convergent in L^2, and a sequence convergent in L^2 has a subsequence that converges almost surely — works anywhere within at least 6 billion light years away, forever. Some of this, if think about it, is mind blowing — tough to believe it’s true, but it is. Just what this basic material in, say, functional analysis, has to do with my startup is a bit obscure but, still, important, even crucial.Ah, in my testing, I ran into a one huge list of similar, trivial problems! I have some code that tries to detect some cases of hacking; so the code tries to consider what Web page from the site was the last sent to that user and check if that page was legal for the way the site is supposed to work.So, the user can come to a Web page directly by URL, as a post-back to the same page, via a post back from a different page at my site or a different site, or via a server transfer from within my server farm. So, I want to handle all of these possibilities, considering various approaches to the ‘previous page’ and if the page is a post back.The documentation on what the results were on previous page and post back for all the cases was really poor, but I guessed and wrote the code. Then during testing, what I found was some astounding, inexplicable variety of possibilities. So, I put in some code to write the possibilities to the site’s log file and did some testing.Each time I encountered a new situation, my site gave an error message and wrote the data to the log. So, I went to the log, got the data, deemed it a legal situation, add it to the code, and continued on. So, I found about 10 cases before the errors quit. The documentation still makes no sense. Bad documentation is one of the biggest problems in Microsoft’s business and in computing more generally.Then I discovered that I need to tweak the UI to handle better some possible but maybe rare cases of duplicate entries. Ah, one of the .NET collection classes to the rescue and add less than 50 lines of code — on to it!

        1. Nate

          There is a name for what you suffer from: Xenophobia.

          1. sigmaalgebra

            With your poor reading comprehension, you can’t hope to make sense throwing around words you don’t understand based on evidence you can’t read or understand.Sounds like you were listening to the campaign of Jeb!, the half as bright younger brother of halfwit W, Mr. “Act of love”, the world’s first and only $125 million dollar idiot who wants to have the US “save the world” since, as he appears to believe, otherwise the whole planet will go spinning off out of the galaxy, and start by returning to the Mideast, with US “boots on the ground”, bringing Christianity, constitutional democracy, peace and freedom to the grateful, unwashed desert masses who will greet us as saviors, spending, this time, 100,000 precious US lives and $10 trillion in precious US treasure while getting us into nuke WWIII with Russia, Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, ISIS, Iraq, Libya, Akrapistan, Pukistan, etc., all because of the “heavy burden” his class and America is obligated to bear or some such. At least Jeb has one good accomplishment — ended the threat of a Bush dynasty. But, we still want to know how come he got paid all that money by Lehman brothers as they trashed the Florida state pension fund that Jeb let them manage while he was Governor.

        2. Lawrence Brass

          Developer blues, I was there once, suffering. Too many abstractions, too many layers, too many black boxes, and as you say documentation is not so good.As we had a fair amount of runway back then, we benchmarked .net, java, native, performance and architecturally wise, to look for the best options. I ended up doing the craziest thing: building it all up from scratch right from the RFCs, natively, just the functionality we needed to implement. Got some flak for doing so.. too bold, too risky, will take too long.. years actually.Now we have a little jewel running the core services 🙂

          1. sigmaalgebra

            Amazing! Congrats.Yup, sometimes the candle is not worth the match. Sometimes I like the analogy of tools in a kitchen or work shop: A few good tools, please. In my kitchen, don’t I really want an onion chopper? Nope! Instead, I just use my two best kitchen tools, my cutting board and my good French chef’s knife. I have a darned good one, from Brazil, sold by Sam’s Club, 2 for $15, NSF white plastic handles, etc. Germany, Japan, eat your heart out, or just cut it out with your expensive knives that chop onions no better than what I have, and maybe not as well.The worst part of my startup was when I went to get the documentation for .NET. I found, downloaded, read, indexed, and abstracted 5000+ Web pages. Right, at 10 pages a day, along with other work, that took, you got it, 500 days, and that’s about what the heck it did take.No doubt the RFCs you read were much shorter than that, much shorter than what I read to make use of the great help of Microsoft’s ASP.NET.Heck, I have several whole books on ASP.NET, and any one of them has to be much longer than the full set of HTTP, HTML, and CSS RFCs you used!It’s an old story in computing: There’s one manual of a few hundred pages on the machine instruction set. Then for the first programming language, we’re talking larger by a factor of a few. Then for the run-time and/or subroutine libraries for that language, larger by a factor of 10 or more. Then for the operating system, to fully document that thingy, f’get about it because no one wants to. And that leaves out relational database, the Microsoft IIS thingy that stands between the TCP/IP stack and the processes with ASP.NET code. Old story.Apparently the Hacker News Web server code was written by Paul Graham in Lisp. So, maybe you and he did similar things. So, from the RFCs, take the string, I guess, of key-value pairs, that HTTP gives the Web server software from a client’s get or post back and on the server go from there.What send back, of course, is some header lines, the HTML text, and, I guess, as in e-mail, several sections of MIME stuff in base 64.Actually, early in the Internet there was a claim for Rexx on OS/2 that because that code was naturally multi-threaded, it would be good for developing Web servers. Hmm.But, when the post data comes back, now, usually want to do something with it, and there may get into much of the rest of computing where don’t really want roll your own, do it yourself.While I don’t really like the language C or even all of the philosophy by authors Kernighan and Ritchie, I can have some sympathy for their remark, IIRC, “It is hardly possible to make progress in any field without building on the work of others.”Heck, for frameworks, the documentation is so poor I can’t figure out what the heck they are driving at. So, there’s supposed to be model, view, controller, and I still don’t know what the heck they are driving at. But my Web page code works as is.And for an integrated development environment, again, the documentation is so poor that to me the candle is not worth the match. Instead, I type into my favorite, programmable text editor. I still use Rexx as my command line scripting language, and those are my few, really good tools.I turned my back when Microsoft started talking about dockable windows: They never said what the heck they meant by dockable, and I just refused to guess. If their work is that bad at the first, then to heck with investing time and effort in the rest.Code repositories? I don’t do that. At IBM Research, our project had 10 people, shipped two Program Products, but never used anything like an integrated development environment or a code repository. No need. Candle not worth the match.Heck, I just got my little code using a collection class to check for duplicates written. First test, it worked just as intended! Second test, something else went wrong — need to check the log file, fix the problem, and go again.So, I have some URLs, say, one each in an array u, of type character string, with one integer subscript. So for integer n URLs, I have URL u(i) for i = 1, 2, …, n. Then I want to check for duplicates. Okay, I defined a collection class, say, URLs — that is, for key-value pairs, in this case — with both the keys and values having type character string.So, in a loop on i = 1 to n, I get a URL u(i) and ask if it is a key in the collection class. If not, then I add to the collection class the key-value pair of the key u(i) and the value i. If so, then there is a duplicate, and the URL in u(i) with subscript i and the one already in the collection class with key u(i) and its subscript j are equal. So, remove component i or j of array u. Nice. Darned nice use of a collection class!Actually, Microsoft’s documentation of their generic collection class SortedDictonary(Of TKey, TValue) is relatively good. But, of course, their use of dictionary is a technical term, that is, with meaning not in Webster’s, and, thus, needs discussion which Microsoft omits. So, have to guess what the heck they mean by dictionary, in this case, easy enough to do.Hopefully, and from what they give for performance via big-O notation, likely, they are just making routine use of either AVL trees or red-black trees, i.e., as in either Knuth or Sedgewick. But, finally, there .NET worked well for me. Right, I could have used my code with heaps (as in heap sort) for priority queues instead — here .NET was easier to use than my code already written!One problem with roll your own or do it yourself is keeping up. E.g., HTTPS instead of just HTTP. E.g., early in the Web, I used the TCP/IP calls in the language Rexx to grab Web pages. But my simple little use of TCP/IP sockets didn’t do the work needed to get a Web page at a URL starting with HTTPS. So, sure, others had been there long before, and I found, downloaded, and used the utility CURL, or C-URL or some such. Well, it handles HTTPS.For my Web site, so far there is no biggie reason to use HTTPS — HTTP alone should be fine. But if later I need HTTPS or HTML5, then I don’t want to roll my own.Heck, I’m not even trying to be a programmer. Instead I’m trying to be a businessman who makes money and an applied mathematician who uses the math as an advantage. Writing the code? That’s supposed to be the easy part. Conceptually, it is. In practice, i.e., number of hours sitting and working, it’s not.

          2. Lawrence Brass

            Need more time to reply, there are several points I would like to discuss… later

        3. Simone

          Look, I always appreciate honesty and there is a lot (more like too much) revealing from your side in your comments. I think I understand what you are trying to say, and based on that understanding I think your goal is too ambitious and it is a goal that makes no sense – understanding or indeed embracing all cultures on this planet. When I was complaining a few years ago to a friend home about my experience as an immigrant, he told me I was different to the rest anyway – in my home country. If only at country level we wouldn’t have differences, there probably wouldn’t be a need for elections! My point being – I wouldn’t even begin to expect I can deeply assimilate a foreign culture. There will be affinities based on our birth culture.But we owe respect to every single culture, as we expect respect from everyone on this planet, not to mention being humble in embracing our unbeatable ignorance (we will never know everything about everything, we will never be able to live all the experiences and put ourselves in everyone else’s shoes).You could have just told Nate that he misunderstood you, you are taking too big a risk trying to capture every single thought you have in words. Thoughts are so fluid and I think I have an idea why we have been designed as to not being able to hear each other’s thoughts.I am sure you don’t mean harm, but patronizing (just because you can) is ugly. Listen to @lawrencebrass:disqus 🙂

          1. sigmaalgebra

            Ah, Fred wants to understand foreign cultures and, thus, recommended two movies to help do that. Congrats to Fred.But, my response, maybe relevant, is that his description, try to understand those cultures, is just too darned hard for me! Too hard. I gave up.Yes, the temples at Angkor Wat are amazing, astounding, and, no doubt to the people who devoted the astoundingly large effort to build them, wonderful. But the cultural difference is so large that to me those temples are hideous. They aren’t really hideous — it’s just that the cultural difference is so great that what seems just wonderful to one culture can seem hideous to another. So, I’m using some of the data I know best, my own, to illustrate some of the distance of such cultural divides. Maybe a lot of people in Cambodia who think Angkor Wat is wonderful would think that some of the most liked buildings in the US — churches, museums, opera houses, government buildings — are hideous. Maybe. I would suspect so.My point: Cultural divides can be big, so big it can be asking a lot for them to be bridged.Use the point? Be careful: Don’t underestimate how big the divides can be, overestimate how easy it would be to bridge the divides, underestimate how difficult it would be to get such a mixed pot to melt, expect too much in assimilation, or be surprised that the divide won’t get crossed, the pot won’t melt, there won’t be much assimilation, and there stands to be too much friction. We don’t like such friction.It’s not that people in one culture have a grudge against, or low opinion of, people in another culture — instead, it is just that the divide can be just huge.Likely the divide is a distance, that is, Cambodia is as far from the US as the US is from Cambodia. Neither side is at fault.Recognizing that the divide exists is prudence and not “xenophobia.” Maybe some US political attitudes regard mentioning the divide as politically incorrect and, instead, want the sense of security of no differences and, to that end, want, at least to pretend, that we can all join hands around the world and sing Why Can’t We Be Friends?.Heck, I started to give up on trying to understand India once I thought again what I’d seen in the David Lean movie Gandhi. Lean did well: The British didn’t understand that guy or that country or its culture. And I had no chance of understanding, either.But, for an example of the distance of such divides, I didn’t have to go way back to Lean’s movie but just to this month in Cologne, German. Maybe Chancellor Merkle is trying really hard to sing Be Friends — the trilogy, right, an effort at retribution for redemption from transgressions — but I suspect that mostly she is discovering the size of the divide. They paid a big price. Some of the prettiest places on the planet, close to flower gardens, in Europe are getting a new appreciation of the sizes of some cultural differences, difficulties of understanding, melting, and assimilation, and paying big prices. I could have used that news from this month as examples but didn’t and simply because the problem is much older and bigger than that.Ah, but is the problem really that big? For the US it was thousands of precious US lives in blood, $3 trillion to $5 trillion big in precious US money, likely 100,000+ Iraqi lives, and counting. I.e., W thought that the cultural divide was easy to cross. E.g., just take a thunder run of some M1A1 tanks into Baghdad and pull down a statue of Saddam. Then we will be greeted as liberators, turn the government over to some Iraqis, “Perfectly capable of governing themselves”, and leave. Nope.Trying to cross cultural divides as in “fuzzy, bunny play time” can be bloody business.E.g., what the heck did the US ever have so seriously against ex-Paris dishwasher Ho? That he got some free meals in Moscow and Peking? That he beat the snot out of the French? Sure, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Dean Rusk, etc. didn’t see the sizes iof some cultural divides. We destabilized Cambodia and got Pol Pot, Iraq and got ISIS, Libya and got more ISIS. We’re trying to destabilize Assad’s Syria and will get — guess what. At one point, we destabilized Iran and got? Are we learning yet?Respect for other cultures? I have enough respect for Viet Nam, Cambodia, Iran, Iraq, and Syria to conclude that we should not have assumed that our efforts would make things better instead of triggering the deaths of, add it up, starting with how many million just in Cambodia? Now, for ISIS in Iraq and Syria, we may have to just level the place, and that will, really, mean just wiping out much of all the Sunni population of Iraq. Ugly, brutal (or so at least it seemed to us) Saddam had a much better solution.Maybe my suggestion that we take the cultural divides seriously is the one with more respect for other cultures.I don’t understand some of those cultures, know I don’t, admit I don’t, gave up trying, but maybe JFK, LBJ, Nixon, …, W understood even less than I do.But, for you Simone, I don’t have a chance. As with the brighter girls in college English lit classes, no way can I hope to compete with you on analyzing such things. I concede! You win. I’ll try to shut up!Back to my software: I want to add some checks for duplicates. Put in the code in one place and tested it — now it works great! Off to put the code in the other place — first find that place in about 20,000 lines of typing!And my startup is supposed to work around the world. E.g., if someone is looking for what they like in architecture and really like the Sidney Opera House a lot, Lincoln Center a little, and Carnegie Hall not at all, what else will they like? If they like Angkor Wat a lot, some temple in Kyoto much more, and the US Capitol building not at all, what else will they like? So, the cultures and interests can be wildly different, but my applied math and software can be the same! How ’bout that!Similarly, if they like the two movies Fred mentioned and don’t like Star Wars, what else will they like? Netflix Challenge — eat your heart out guys, you passed out a poorly posed problem (awful alliteration).The math? Some original with me. The prerequisites and the rest? Kolmogorov, von Neumann, Lebesgue, that is, Russian, Hungarian with a German education, and French, that I learned heavily from texts by a guy from Austria taught by a guy taught by a guy from Greece and from a text from a guy from France taught by a guy from France at UC Berkeley. Also learned from texts from a guy from Hungary taught in part by von Neumann when they were both at the Institute in Princeton. Just some full disclosure on my severe, despicable case of fascist xenophobia.

          2. Lawrence Brass

            You should tell that to my kids Simone. Well, not kids anymore really but they should listen. 🙂

      2. Simone

        beautiful words

        1. Lawrence Brass

          Thanks, you are very kind.

  28. Matt Zagaja

    There is nothing more powerful than a good story. We are lucky to live in a world where they exist in such abundance. I am going to be a contrarian and say I’m happy we celebrate our stories and culture. The Martian and Steve Jobs were two of my favorites. I still want to see Spotlight and The Big Short.

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Right on, man.

  29. Guy Hargreaves

    For me The Martian, I think because the book was great and the film great for different reasons, but also because SpaceX and Elon have captured the imagination so the timing was impeccable.

  30. lisa hickey

    As I was thinking about three Oscar nominees that I liked, I realized that one thing that tied them all together was…the hero was math. Or at least math drove a key piece of the dramatic revelation. For The Martian, that is what I loved most about the book—he basically solves every problem he comes up against with math. The Big Short…obviously…you can almost see them doing the math in their heads in scene after scene. But even Spotlight…that was their breakthrough…how many times has a dramatic exposition been done with a camera move to a close-up of a spreadsheet? I can’t think of one. But that was how the team realized the extent of the abuse, and then backtracked to uncover it. I am not discounting, of course, the very human-ness of all the performances, or the way that the stories were told, or the power of people to fight for what they believed in. But I like the battles are no longer with violence and weapons and brute strength but with elegant mathematical analysis.

    1. Simone

      Hi Lisa, let’s be fair to all sciences and range of skills and say that math was one of the tools, but one of the many tools used in both movies. I am not going to diminish the importance of Matt’s technical skills in his survival, but what really caught my attention was his spirit (very well captured in the book) – his will to leave and see the beautiful, homey Earth again.I binge on anything science related that I can understand, but science alone is never enough – see the atomic bomb, etc etc

      1. lisa hickey

        I understand that science is never enough, and that there were other tools used besides math. But in all cases in the movies I give examples of—they started with math, and math drove key plot points.Remember Hemingway’s quote—“If there is a gun on the mantle in the opening scene, that gun better go off by act 3”? In each of these movies—there were no guns. There was a spreadsheet, there were computer calculations, and there was a guy who figured out mathematically how many potatoes he needed to grow to survive on Mars for three years.I get that it’s not the only thing. This conversation reminds me about a long, heated conversation on AVC where I was in defense of spreadsheets. And look, as part of my day job I try to solve the problems of racism, sexism and homophobia. I don’t whip out a spreadsheet when confronted with an angry racist. But I do look for the patterns in systems so that those problems can be solved on a systemic level. And I think it is really cool that math as a tool is becoming more visible in that way to the general public, and at something like the Oscars.I’d rather see people using math as a tool than using guns (or atom bombs) as a tool.

        1. Girish Mehta

          Interesting, I know of a variation of that quote by Chekhov. Did not know about Hemingway…did he also say it…?

          1. lisa hickey

            You are right, I meant Chekhov. Which would make sense, since Chekhov actually was a playwright. Don’t know why I would have associated Hemingway with a gun and writing tips. 🙂 Thanks for the correction!

  31. NeilvanderLinden

    It is sad that all ‘foreign’ movies end up in one category. For instance in the year A Separation won in the category best foreign movie, it could/should just as well have seriously competed, and to my opinion won, in several other categories, like best movie in general, best direction, best leading male and female actors, best female supporting roles (two strong ones). One of my favourites of last year was A Girl Walks Home Alone in the Night by Ana Lily Amirpour. Not that I did not like Interstellar or so.

    1. Simone

      I always think we don’t get to see/hear the best and are instead forcibly fed with the big corporations products. so happy to see what netflix and amazon are doing in this space, I hope it is only the beginning and one of the outcomes will also be uncovering the hidden jams. maybe they will come up with alternative festivals, especially as both have location specific exposure/expertise

    2. Kirsten Lambertsen

      This looks great!

  32. TeddyBeingTeddy

    Fred you ever think about investing in indie film projects? Gotta be parallels with tech investing on the ROI

  33. Steve Lincoln

    I liked “Inside Out” for its remarkable ability to give a tween girl’s perspective on her world and for its clever introduction to neurology at a level that kids could relate to.

  34. Philippe Platon

    Touched to see your favorite was Mustang. A wonderful movie indeed (I preferred it to The Virgin Suicides). Too bad it did not get the oscar it deserved (even though Son of Saul fully deserved to win as well).

  35. creative group

    Charlie Crystle:Chiraq (Much too ethnic-Black) to be nominated.Wasn’t nominated so not in the discussion. One of the many reasons #Oscarssowhite campaign.Idris Alba in wasn’t even an after thought.

  36. creative group

    Charlie Crystle:awaiting Chiraq release on DVD. We are more of independent movie viewers.