Men of the Year 2014

David Oyelowo

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You may or may not recognise the name, but you will sure as hell recognise the man. Mr Oyelowo has been in some of the biggest films of the last five years – The Help, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Lincoln to name just three – and this year was no different. With roles in Interstellar and A Most Violent Year, David’s career seems to be getting bigger and better, culminating in a brilliant performance as Martin Luther King Jr. in the highly recommended Selma. As our very own Sarah put it, he’s come a long way since Spooks.

Chris Pratt

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Whether he’s Fat Pratt or Six Pack Pratt, we’re smitten with the Parks and Recreation star – his turn as Star-Lord in Guardians Of The Galaxy has seen him go from (please excuse this next word) cuddly, cute comedy actor to bonafide box-office banger. And before you say it, no it’s not *just* his looks that have us hooked – Pratt’s hilarious performance as Emmet in The Lego Movie appealed to viewers of all ages and his voice was perfect for the earnest and enthusiastic hero. And good lord was it difficult to make a decision on which picture of him to use for this post. I spent HOURS researching…

John Boyega

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Since the end of November, there’s only one film anyone has been talking about, and it doesn’t even come out for another year – Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens. The trailer opens with a young man popping up on screen looking panicked and exhausted – that’s our John Boy(ega)! With a lead role in arguably the most hotly anticipated film of next year, we’re so impressed that the star of Attack The Block and Half of A Yellow Sun has seen so much success so early on in his career – and he’s still only 22 years old!

John Oliver

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When Jon Stewart took a break from hosting The Daily Show this summer to direct his film Rosewater, he could have picked any of the show’s correspondents to stand in for him, and he chose the only British one. John Oliver did a fantastic job of hosting the show; he was already hugely popular with the audience, you could tell this from the rapturous applause he received whenever he hosted a segment. His brand of super-sarcastic, verbose humour was wasted on the absolutely dire Mock The Week, and he’s much better suited and appreciated in his role as a correspondent on a fake news show. Sure, he looks like a Jim Henson muppet come to life, but he actually did such a good job that he was given his own show on HBO, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, which is similar to The Daily Show but with even more sarcasm and a British accent – what more could you want? And speaking of The Daily Show alumni…

Stephen Colbert

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This year, Stephen Colbert was announced as David Letterman’s replacement for when the talk-show king steps down in 2015. While the DTSFT ladies agree that it would be nice to see someone other than a white, middle-aged man hosting a late-night chat show, we’re still pretty pleased with the choice that’s been made. Stephen has come a long way since his days as a correspondent on The Daily Show, landing his own show in 2005, The Colbert Report, which sadly came to an end in December with a final episode packed full of callbacks to earlier episodes and a sing-along with his favourite recurring characters and guests. It’s going to be weird to see him hosting as himself rather than the conservative character (also named Stephen Colbert) that he has played for so long, but we’re definitely excited to see what he has to offer.

 Kailash Satyarthi

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Along with Malala Yousafzai, Kailash was the recipient of the 2014 Nobel Prize for his tireless campaigning for children’s rights. The access to education, which we in the Western world take for granted, has been a focus point for Mr Satyarthi, and his Nobel Prize was well-deserved.

Peter Capaldi

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Here at DTSFT, we were delighted with the casting of Peter Capaldi as The Twelfth Doctor, as he made a nice change from the potato-faced Matt Smith. His turn as Mr Curry in Paddington also brought him to the attention of a new and younger audience, who will hopefully be tuning in to be utterly terrified by Doctor Who.  Mwuhahahaha!

Chris Evans, Sebastian Stan, and Anthony Mackie

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Yeah I’m lumping them all in together because otherwise this post will go on forever – it’s the Captain America: The Winter Soldier gang! With Hannah’s insatiable lust for Sebastian Stan, there was no way the DTSFT ladies were going to leave this trio off the Men of The Year list. While we’ll have to wait for Captain America: Civil War to see the boys back onscreen together, you could check out ‘Playing It Cool’ for a cheeky helping of Evans and Mackie. We’re especially proud of Evans for his directorial debut, Before We Go, as well as his role in the dark action thriller, Snowpiercer – give it a UK release date, god DAMMIT!

Chadwick Boseman

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Chadwick made waves last year with his role as Jackie Robinson in the magnificent 42, and it looks like the next few years are going to be no different for this versatile actor. After portraying soul legend James Brown in the biopic Get On Up, Boseman is set to star as the Marvel character Black Panther in not one but TWO upcoming Marvel movies – Captain America: Civil War and Black Panther. Chadwick, you complete and utter BANGER.

Jack O’Connell

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Unlike some actors who seem to love the limelight more than the craft, Jack O’Connell is a young actor who has worked hard at his talent and is finally starting to get some recognition. After making his name with a role in Skins and films like Private Peaceful and Harry Brown, this intense young actor’s star has continued to rise and this year saw him in three of the most talked about films – ’71, 300: Rise of an Empire, and Angelina Jolie-directed Unbroken. From interviews I’ve watched, he doesn’t seem all too comfortable on the chat-show circuit, which I think makes for a better actor – the less we know about him, the more believable he’ll be in his roles.

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52 Books in 2013 Challenge: April Update

Due to some personal reasons, April has been a less than great month for me, so the catch-up I was hoping for didn’t quite happen and I only managed 3 books, meaning I’m still behind target.  But here’s hoping with the beautiful weather I’m more inspired to read a little more now and get up to date with the challenge.  Here’s what I managed in April…

Book 11: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

thingfallapartThis was the first time I’d read this book, despite having heard about it many times during my short stint on a literature-based degree, and as often happens when an author dies I decided that it was time to finally get acquainted with of his works.  When Chinua Achebe died in March of this year, this title was mentioned in every obituary and article about the writer, so I managed to find my copy (unread, pristine condition, what a treat) and figured I’d give it a shot.
Once I’d got my head around the names – which at times are very similar or there are characters with the same name, or one character with two different names, or two characters from different villages with the same name – I was able to enjoy the book more.  Much of the dialogue features stories or proverbs told by the elder characters to give depth and perspective on the current situations of the plot.  The main story is about a man named Okonkwo, who builds up his own life and wealth to rid himself of his lazy father’s legacy, and becomes a well respected leader in his village, so much so that when a boy (Ikemefuna) is sent from another village as a prisoner, he is left in Okonkwo’s care who treats him like a son.  Ikemefuna’s fate is sealed, and without giving too much away, Okonkwo acts against the advice of one of the village elders and it seems that from this point on, Okonkwo suffers from a string of bad luck which results in him being exiled for 7 years.  If this isn’t enough to get him down, Okonwko finds that when he returns, Christian missionaries have arrived and set up churches, converted many of the locals and instituted their own legal system, courts and all.
I was annoyed at myself for having left it so long before reading this.  It was simple, yet profoundly moving – I was aware of the Christians’ history of moving in to places and enforcing their beliefs on others, but it was enlightening to read about it from the other (essentially more important) perspective, and in such a poetic and powerful way.

Book 12: I Am America (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert

i_am_americaHow do I explain this book to somebody who has no idea about Stephen Colbert?  Answer: I don’t.  I invite them to read the book (or, as I did, listen to it) and just bask in the satirical genius of Stephen Colbert.

I’ve followed The Daily Show and The Colbert Report for many years now, and while I’m currently suffering from alternating paralysis and red hot searing pain due to the return of the embarrassingly unfunny ‘10 O’Clock Live’ on Channel 4, I can ease my pain by watching *actually funny* satire done right by indulging in some Daily Show or Colbert Report episodes.  And if you can’t be bothered to get into the shows, then I’d highly recommend any of the books published off the back of these shows – ‘I Am America (And So Can You!)’ is a great place to start.

Now, I listened to the audiobook version, and as I haven’t read the hardback edition, I can’t comment on that.  All I can say about the audio version is that it made me laugh out loud a few times on the bus and walking down the street – my favourite part in particular was when Stephen talks about how humans are meant to dominate animals, and punctuates each point with a story about how he has to basically wait hand and foot on his elderly, sickly dog.  Colbert’s whole routine is that he is this deluded right-wing pundit, explaining to Americans how things used to be and how they should be now.  It’s very over the top, which makes it even funnier when you think that some of the things he says are actually indicative of some extreme right-wing views.

Just get it and listen to it, or read it if you must.  It’s HILARIOUS.
Book 13: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Of-Mice-and-Men-(Penguin-Modern-Classics)I picked this for three reasons:

1) It’s super short, so I can get my numbers up
2) The girl I’m tutoring is studying it for her GCSEs (in two years, talk about eager!)
3) It’s just an outstanding novel.

I first read this many years ago – shortly after my brother read it for school, I took an interest in it and read it at school in the library, and I think that I must have not fully taken it all in, because reading it again this time around was just a wonderful experience, and I’m hoping I can pass on some of my enthusiasm for the novel to my student.

Steinbeck’s crisp, to-the-point language and clear, lasting descriptive passages make the story come to life in a way that lets you see the characters for who they are, bringing their flaws to the forefront even if they’re meant to be the likeable one.  The story of two workers, traveling across the country doing field work in the hope to one day raise the money to settle down on a ranch of their own is both uplifting and tragic; strength and fragility play off one another in this book, and in less than 150 pages Steinbeck has you rooting for the doomed pair and breaks your heart without melodrama.  If you haven’t read it – it’ll take you perhaps 2 hours to do so, you owe it to yourself to read this book.