“Where do I know them from?” you ask while puzzling over actors on TV. Out comes your phone, up comes Wikipedia, and there are the facts.
That’s how it worked during the Super Bowl. In the minute after Von Miller, a relatively obscure (to the public, at least) defensive player, was announced as the Super Bowl’s MVP, his article received 41,000 clicks—683 a second.
And now the Oscars are rolling out the red carpet for Wikipedia “second-screen” viewing. There’s real news to catch up on: The intense criticism of the lack of diversity among this year’s nominees. President Barack Obama commented on the issue, asking: “Are we making sure that everybody is getting a fair shot?,” and host Chris Rock has reportedly rewritten his monologue to address the controversy.
And there are the movies themselves, complete with trivia and details. “I love delving into the production aspects of films, all the weird little nuggets you’d never know about from the finished product can be hard to keep track of,” says Wikipedia editor David Fuchs, who lives in Washington DC and has worked on all of the articles on the original Star Trek movies.
Wikipedians will be watching the Oscars—and some have even worked on articles about Oscar winners. An editor named Johanna worked on the 1999 film “Boys Don’t Cry,” which saw Hillary Swank win an Oscar for best actress. “Although I don’t always agree with their choices for winners and nominees, it’s always fun to see film history in the making,” she said.
Here’s a starter kit with a Wiki Playlist of the nominees for Best Picture. This new tool from our friends at the Wiki Education Foundation lets you grab a group of comparable Wikipedia articles, display them all visually together, and tote them around with one handy link.
You can even build your own at playlist.wiki.
A Wiki Playlist of best picture nominees is a good example of how you can collect and share articles that naturally go together, said Eryk Salvaggio, communications manager for the Wiki Education Foundation. “We built it to help people share that joy of learning, and as a way to thank the volunteers who build Wikipedia.”
Grab the tub of popcorn. Wikipedia is your Oscars buddy. (Pajamas on the couch are our tuxedo and ball gown, too.)
2016’s best picture nominees and factoids
- The Big Short – Celebrities including singer Selena Gomez and globetrotting foodie Anthony Bourdain “break the fourth wall” in cameos to explain financial concepts.
- Bridge of Spies – The film is based on the real-life arrest and trial of US spy pilot Gary Powers, who was shot down by Soviet forces in 1960. Powers was criticized in the U.S. for not using an optional CIA-issued coin with shellfish toxin embedded in its grooves to kill himself.
- Brooklyn – Despite its name, the film was mostly shot in Ireland and Canada.
- Mad Max: Fury Road –: Fury Road was in “development hell” for many years; pre-production started as early as 1997.
- The Martian – NASA sent hundreds of files of real images of Mars and images of control centers, down to what the computer screens look like, to the production team.
- The Revenant – Loosely based on experiences of frontiersman and fur trapper Hugh Glass Glass, who was left for dead by companions following his mauling by a grizzly bear.
- Room – Jacob Tremblay, who plays the narrator and costar Jack, was 8 when production of the film began.
- Spotlight – Vatican Radio called the film, which chronicles the Boston Globe’s expose of the Catholic Church pedophile scandal in Boston, “honest” and “compelling” and said it helped the U.S. Catholic Church “to accept fully the sin, to admit it publicly, and to pay all the consequences.”
And the ceremony’s host, Chris Rock, is back to host the awards, 11 years after his criticized Oscars hosting in 2005. Rock has said his performing style was influenced by his paternal grandfather, Allen Rock, a preacher.
One poignant segment each year is the video showing notable deaths of the past year. Wikipedians chronicle these as well, 365 days a year. Leonard Nimoy, B.B. King, Maureen O’Hara, Wes Craven and Omar Sharif are among the major entertainment industry’s losses in 2015.
And if you’re just not having the whole thing, go snarky with the anti-Oscars: the 36th Golden Raspberry Awards, saluting the worst in film. Most nominated this year? Fifty Shades Of Grey. Despite mixed reviews, two sequels are planned.
Jeff Elder, Digital Communications Manager
Ed Erhart, Editorial Associate
This post is part of the blog’s “News on Wikipedia” series, where we examine how Wikipedians deal with events and happenings in the world around them.