Bob Geldof’s Daughter Peaches Dead at 25

Peaches Geldof, the daughter of Boomtown Rats front man Bob Geldof has been found dead at the age of 25. She leaves behind a husband and two sons.

Police are treating the death as “unexplained and sudden”. It was on Monday at lunchtime that they were called to Geldof’s Kent address.

Her father said this in a statement:

We are beyond pain. She was the wildest, funniest, cleverest, wittiest and the most bonkers of all of us.

How is this possible that we will not see her again? How is that bearable?

We loved her and will cherish her forever. How sad that sentence is.

Kent Police also made their own statement on the matter:

Police were called at 13:35 BST on 7 April, 2014 to an address near Wrotham following a report of concern for the welfare of a woman.

A woman aged 25 was pronounced dead by South East Coast Ambulance Service.

Officers are working to establish the circumstances around the death.

Peaches Geldof, who was herself a TV presenter and writer, is survived by her husband Thomas Cohen, a musician. He had this to say:

My beloved Peaches was adored by myself and her two sons. I shall bring them up with their mother in their hearts every day. We shall love her forever.

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The Ongoing Saga of Minister for “Justice” Alan Shatter

The Minister for Justice in Ireland, Alan Shatter has survived a vote of no confidence tabled by Fianna Fáil late yesterday by a vote of 95-51.

The motion was tabled after a string of controversial incidents under Shatter’s watchful eye including the Garda station tapings and the subsequent resignation of Garda commissioner Martin Callinan.

Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin criticised Shatter for his recent mistakes and blamed him for causing damage to morale in An Garda Síochána.

“From his first days in office he has been incredibly dismissive,” said Martin.

One of Shatter’s cabinet colleagues, Francis Fitzgerald, defended him however, saying “he’s the most reforming Minister for Justice we’ve ever had” and added: “He’s had a huge agenda which he has dealt with very assiduously, terrific reforms in Justice that have been lying around waiting to happen for 30 years in my view.”

Amongst the hate mail Shatter has been receiving as of late was a package containing a white powder, with a Nazi photograph and Swastika emblem attached.

The bomb disposal team was called to the home before the powder was identified as merely baking powder, though the sinister tone of the Nazi photograph, depicting soldiers at a Nazi rally.

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny condemned the anti-semitic package, and deplored such actions just because Alan Shatter is Jewish.

“This morning at the home of the Minister for Justice, an item arrived by post, which contained anti-Semitic material and a substance which analysed turned out to be harmless.

The minister is in the house a long time. Members of the Jewish faith have been members of the Fianna Fail party, the Labour Party and the Fine Gael Party. This has sunk to a new low,” he said.

“Irrespective of the normal rough and tumble here in politics, we can all deplore that. It is not in order that anti-Semitic material is being received by the minister who just happens to be a member of a particular faith,” finished the Taoiseach.

 

Garda Commissioner Resigns

On March 25th, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan resigned after massive pressure over the last two months due to his controversial appearance at the Public Accounts Committee.

His comments there sparked outrage when he called the actions of whistleblowers who disseminated sensitive date downloaded from the Pulse system “disgusting”.

In a statement Mr. Callinan said:  “I felt that recent developments were proving to be a distraction from the important work that is carried out by An Garda Síochána on a daily basis for the citizens of the State in an independent and impartial manner.”

The under-fire Minister for Justice Alan Shatter praised the work Callinan has done during his 40 years in the force saying:

“I wish to pay tribute to the Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan, on his retirement from An Garda Síochána.

“As Commissioner and throughout his very distinguished service in the Force he has made an enormous contribution to fighting crime and I believe that this contribution will be seen as a legacy of which he can be very proud and for which the community he served are in his debt.

“The high reputation of An Garda Síochána has been gained down through the years through people’s experience of dealing with members like Martin Callinan, often at times of great difficulty.

“I believe, at these challenging times for the Force, the men and women who serve in it will continue to enjoy the respect of the community they serve, often at great risk to themselves.

“I extend to him my sincere thanks for his dedication and service to the State throughout his long and distinguished career.”

Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin T.D.s were in unison in calling for Shatter to follow Callinan in stepping down also.

The government has also published a letter which was written by then commissioner Callinan, written on March 10th, where he reveals and details the controversial phone recordings at certain Garda stations to the Department of Justice.

WrestleMania XXX Pre-blog!

It’s finally here! Arguably the biggest weekend in the history of professional wrestling, and almost certainly in the history of Vince McMahon’s wrestling empire, brings the biggest WrestleMania show of all time (yes, they say this every year, but this actually is!).

For so long so many had massive expectations of this event, dreaming up all manner of fantasy matches from CM Punk versus “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, to The Undertaker versus Sting, to The Rock versus Brock Lesnar and many more besides. Then once the ‘Road to WrestleMania’ began in earnest back in January, fans were subjected to some of the most worrying and unsatisfying decisions WWE’s Creative could have mustered.

The furore all surrounded the treatment of Daniel Bryan, who is currently the most ‘over’ (popular) WWE superstar since the likes of The Rock and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Beating John Cena back at SummerSlam for the WWE Championship only to lose it immediately to Randy Orton after a screw job by Triple H preceded a win over Randy Orton to retain the title only to be forced to hand the title back to Triple H and ‘The Authority’, allowing Orton to regain it. Bryan would then be moved out of the title picture altogether.

Then came one of the most controversial and downright disappointing Royal Rumble pay-per-views in recent memory. Randy Orton defeated John Cena to keep his belt before Batista, someone the fans really don’t care for, won the Rumble match to ensure he’d be facing Orton in the main event at WrestleMania XXX. To confound the fans misery, Bryan didn’t even feature in the match. Cue fan outrage.

With two of the fans’s favourite wrestlers in CM Punk and Daniel Bryan being horrendously booked in feuds with the likes of Kane and The Wyatt Family, something had to give. And it did. After the Rumble, Punk literally left the company. He took his ball and went home. He was burnt out and disillusioned with how he was being used. Daniel Bryan stuck it out though, and is now reaping the rewards of filling the void that CM Punk has left, hopefully only temporarily.

So onto the event itself.

Triple H vs. Daniel Bryan (Winner added to WWE title match)

The big draw of the card is definitely Daniel Bryan, as he faces Triple H with the winner being added to the WWE World Heavyweight title match against Orton and Batista. This feud has had a decent enough build-up, with Triple H beating seven shades of shite out of Bryan with a batshit mental Stephanie McMahon ushering him on. This week on Raw though, Bryan got his own back, taking out not just Triple H but also Orton and Batista. So who wins? It’s almost a certainty that Bryan wins this match. Anything else just makes zero sense. It won’t be straightforward though. Triple H will probably get the sledgehammer out after being pinned and add doubt to whether Bryan can make the main event.

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John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt

This feud could have been done a lot more thoroughly and started earlier but sure here it is. The WWE’s biggest star being so low on the card might seem a strange move especially for the biggest show the company has ever held, but there’s a method to this madness. Most signs suggest Bray Wyatt will get the win and receive an almighty heel push by beating the face of the company at WrestleMania, but I personally think Cena takes this. Expect Wyatt to take Cena to the limits with Cena eventually pulling the win out of nowhere, and the feud continuing on to Extreme Rules, where Wyatt then wins.

The Shield vs. Kane & The New Age Outlaws

This match really should be a showcase of how awesome Reigns, Ambrose and Rollins are as a team, but there are continuing doubts about whether the WWE plan to split the trio up. All signs suggest that this will happen. For one, The Shield have recently done a face-turn, becoming fan favourites, which might suggest an almost immediate reverse turn is imminent. Eventually, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins will form a heel tag team with Roman Reigns going solo as a babyface, but hopefully this doesn’t happen on Sunday. I expect The Shield to dismantle their ageing opponents with consummate ease. Believe that.

The Vickie Guerrero Divas Invitational

Whatever predictions I make won’t matter as I’ll be using this match as a cue to hit the bar and/or the toilets. No offence ladies. But while I’m here, let’s hope the keep the belt on AJ Lee.

Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal

Thirty WWE superstars vying to win a five foot bronze Andre The Giant trophy statue. This will most likely be quite fun and you can only be curious to see who the three ‘mystery’ entrants to the match are. The bookies’ favourite happens to be Alexander Rusev, who would be one of the ‘mystery’ entrants. One can dream that the other two entrants are genuine off-your-seat names, but will actually end up being WWE legends like Roddy Piper or Sgt. Slaughter. Personally, I’d love Dolph Ziggler or Big E to take this but it will probably be someone ‘meh’ like Rusev or Sheamus.

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The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar (….to end The Streak?)

This one needs no prediction really. The Streak simply will not end, at least not this weekend. Why not? Because Brock Lesnar is only a part-timer and if The Undertaker ever was to actually lose at WrestleMania it would have to be against someone you were aiming to catapult to super-stardom almost immediately. The push of all pushes. Somebody like Roman Reigns perhaps. But don’t fret, this match will most likely be absolutely fantastic. Taker has stolen the show at the last five or so ‘Manias and Lesnar generally adds something special to a match that only he can add. This match will most likely see Lesnar demolishing Taker for the duration, before the Deadman makes a comeback and wins, probably by the Hell’s Gate gogoplata submission. In fact, this match could become somewhat of a pseudo MMA-pro wrestling match, with both men incidentally wearing MMA gloves and Brock also having using a kimura submission hold that comes from his MMA background. Taker to win all day long though. 22-0.

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Randy Orton vs. Batista vs. Daniel Bryan/Triple H (WWE World Heavyweight Championship match)

Everyone, including the bookies, has Daniel Bryan to be the WWE World Heavyweight Champion by the end of Sunday night. In my experience of watching WWE PPVs though, getting your hopes up is a surefire way of having your WWE world come crashing down around you. It happens all the time. They love to piss off the fans to get heat, but will they really drop the ball so massively by giving to the belt to someone like Batista? Even in my most pessimistic of views, I STILL can’t see anything other than Daniel Bryan winning the big one. It has to be far too tempting for WWE. Imagine the scene: Bryan overcoming all the odds after two gruelling matches, beating three men and FINALLY getting the belt after all his hardship, and WrestleMania ends with tens of thousands of people in the New Orleans SuperDome chanting “YES! YES! YES!” at the top of their lungs with their hero finally the champion. It will be amazing.

As for how the match itself will go down, it most likely won’t be a straighforward shoot. Triple H will no doubt be involved either before or during trying to sabotage Bryan’s win. Dream scenario? Triple H interferes to try and cost Bryan the title, only for CM Punk’s music to hit to one of the all-time biggest pops and he Second City Saint returning from exile to help his old friend. Bryan then hits the running knee to pin Orton. Or else something involving Steve Austin. We’re gonna get something awesome. Either way, Daniel Bryan will finally become the WWE World Heavyweight Champion.

 

Predictions in brief:

8-man Tag Team Pre-Show Match: The Usos

John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt: John Cena

Divas Invitational: AJ Lee

Andre The Giant Battle Royal: Dolph Ziggler

Triple H vs. Daniel Bryan: Daniel Bryan

6-man Tag Team Match: The Shield

The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar: The Undertaker

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match: Daniel Bryan

 

Getting Serious About Commercialisation in Sport…

The old adage from the grumpy old pundit goes something like this: “It was a harder game in my day.” Generation after generation belittle the current generation and claim they had it harder; they had it tougher. “These guys wouldn’t have lasted a week back in my day” they say. While this could be the case for many sports, most notably soccer, this of course is mostly down to an evolution of player safety, insurance and common sense.

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The main reason that modern sport “stars” are considered as “soft” or “pampered” and not as tough or as “hard” as players “back in the day” is because of the rise of celebrity and the brand, with this in itself stemming from the vast amount of money that television companies such as Sky have pumped into certain sports.

Back in the early 90’s, the old English First Division was transformed into the Premier League or Premiership, which ushered in the Sky Sports era of mass commercialisation and broadcasting of hundreds of games every season. Sky would dictate when certain games where played, and would decide if they’d rather big games such as Manchester United vs. Liverpool, for instance, should be moved to a Sunday afternoon so as to avoid it clashing with other televised or non-televised matches.

From these matches the exposure that comes with them, star and names were made, coinciding with this new celebrity fascination that was sweeping the world around the same time. Back in the 60’s and 70’s the golden boy of football, especially in the United Kingdom and Ireland, was Manchester United’s George Best. A European Cup winner and European Footballer of the Year, Best’s popularity rose due to a combination of his vast skills on the pitch, his good looks and his womanising ways. But Best’s celebrity was small scale compared to so many that came through in the 90’s, and those who truly burst the stratosphere in the 00’s.

The first name that comes to mind when you think of sport transcending the game and entering into commercialisation and the celebrity world is David Beckham. One could be forgiven for being unaware that Beckham was actually a very, very good football player. He may have played for Manchester United, Real Madrid, L.A. Galaxy, A.C. Milan, Paris St-Germain and captained England, but worldwide “Goldenballs” is known better simply for ‘Brand Beckham’. He’s a global icon, with his own line of clothing, cosmetics and underwear. He has made himself into one of the most recognisable face on the planet, not just in sport. Someone who has truly transcended his code into something much bigger.

So has this level of commercialisation damaged sports in any way? Using the example of soccer, you would have to think in most ways it hasn’t. Commercialisation has bankrolled the sport to such a level that soccer is hands down the most globally watched sport on the planet. The purity of the game may have diminished however, with players terrified of suffering with an injury that could keep them off the pitch and away from the cameras for too long. Such things affect sponsorship deals and bonuses. This brings us back to earlier where the older football pundit or fan might argue that these guys today are just not as hard as they were back in the day. This is most certainly true but it’s understandable when there’s a multi-million multi-year boot deal from Nike or Adidas on the table. The biggest players are such precious commodities nowadays that they’re wrapped in cotton wool and treated in the same ilk as rare, precious vase.

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Such is the scale and power of brands in sport that the likes of Nike has been alleged to have funded transfers in conjunction with teams for certain players. They were allegedly involved in helping to fund a potential bid by Manchester United to bring Cristiano Ronaldo back to Old Trafford from Real Madrid, whom they had sold him to back in 2009 for a then world record fee of €93 million. The deal never came to be, but imagine it had. What kind of power would Nike have then when it comes to Manchester United’s future commercial dealings? And would other clubs they sponsor such as Arsenal and Manchester City and Barcelona have something to say about them helping out Manchester United in such a way? These are some of the questions that can arise from how commercial the game has become.

Not just in soccer though, fledgling and amateur sports such as mixed martial arts and Gaelic games, football and hurling, are hugely reliant on television and broadcast deals, as well as outside sponsorship in order to not even thrive, but to survive. The GAA need their television deal. Dublin GAA have just signed a monumental sponsorship deal with insurance giants Aon, the first of its kind in the sports and many other counties have signalled their displeasure at how unfair it is that Dublin now have even more money than they do. Is this sour grapes? Or is it an example of commercialisation upsetting the fairness in the game financially?

It’s all a money game nowadays though. From the amateurs up to the professionals. The traditional notion of sports is long gone. Sure, the reason you get into a sport is love of competing, but what keeps you being able to compete in that sport at the highest levels is whether you can make money for yourself and for other people. “Back in the day” you made only the money the club told you you were going to earn, but nowadays players have so much more power thanks to commercialisation that it has actually weakened smaller clubs to the point where they find it impossible to keep their best players if bigger clubs come in with a big bid.

Commercialisation has smothered sport to the point where it is controlled by outside interests and businessmen only interested in profit. But profit can only come from entertainment, and fans are entertained more so than ever watching as much of their chosen code as they can stomach on a bi-weekly basis. You just can’t avoid sport nowadays. It’s as common as your daily soap. There’s always something on, because sponsors and players and commodities have to be seen. The intent might not be wholly pure, but more money in the sport from commercialisation has meant these sports are now of a better quality. Without a doubt.

BAFTAs – Winners, Losers & Pictures

Last night the British Academy Film & Television Awards took place, with award favourites 12 Years A Slave and Gravity amongst some of the biggest winners on the evening.

The big award on the night, ‘Best Picture’, went to favourite 12 Years A Slave, beating away competition from heavyweights American Hustle starring Christian Bale, Captain Phillips starring Tom Hanks, Gravity starring George Clooney and Philomena starring Steve Coogan.

The award for ‘Best British Film’ went to Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity, which despite popular belief was actually shot entirely in London and not Outer Space. It beat movies such as Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom and Rush.

Before that, the award for ‘Best Director’ went to Gravity’s Alfonso Cuarón, ensuring the British have yet more to claim that isn’t really theirs. He beat the likes of Martin Scorcese, Paul Greengrass, Steve McQueen and David O Russell.

As for ‘Best Actor’, it is with no small effort that one types the name of 12 Years A Slave’Chiwetel Ejiofor. His performance was deemed satisfactory enough to beat Christian Bale and Leonard DiCaprio. Though it must be noted timing of Dallas Buyers Club‘s release in the UK meant Matthew McConnaughey was not eligible.

‘Best Actress’ went to the incredible Lady Galadriel herself, Cate Blanchett, not for her role reprisal in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug but rather Blue Jasmine, a movie we hadn’t heard of until we checked what movie Blanchett was nominated for.

‘The Jennifer Lawrence Award for Best Supporting Actresses’ went of course to Jennifer Lawrence, for her immense and by now expected turn in American Hustle. This a movie that’s plot was drivel and only existed to showcase how awesome Lawrence and Christian Bale are.

‘Best Supporting Actor’ was unfortunately not won by Michael Fassbender, so what’s the point? Well it was won by the Somalian pirate Barkhad Abdi in Captain Phillips, who we’re hearing was actually a limo driver and not a pirate, so apologies to him and his family.

All the winners and losers are expected to conjugate together later tonight in the annual Illuminati ritual of burning their expensive tuxedos and gowns under the influence of Illuminati-supplied magic mushrooms. This blog has been brought to you by the Illuminati. “Illuminati – Don’t Mention It!”

Interview with Irish Mixed Martial Artist Paul Redmond

June 1st, 2013 – One Paul “Redser” Redmond beats Marc Allen in the second round, by way of a toe-hold. This was not just Redmond’s fifth consecutive victory for the Cage Warriors promotion, but his fifth consecutive finish inside the distance. “Redser” was aboard an express train towards a shot at the Cage Warriors lightweight strap, formerly owned by Conor McGregor, now held by Ivan Buchinger.

Fast forward to New Year’s Eve 2013, and Redmond’s train was momentarily derailed, being submitted inside two rounds against arguably the toughest opponent of his career, Mateusz Teodorczuk (11-2). It would be Redmond’s first defeat since March of 2012, and one in which he is fully aware of where he went wrong.

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“I was just trying to push the finish too quick rather than just let it flow like I normally do,” explained the 27 year old. “I pride myself in not biting down on the gum shield and coming out swinging but my god did I come out and try to take his head off in the second round and it’s something I never do, I never get careless. When I found myself underneath him, I just paused for a split second, and that level you just cannot pause.”

For many fighters, the last fight, especially one that was a defeat, would greatly influence how they approached training going into their next fight. “Should I change this? Maybe if I trained more on this aspect and put that on the back burner for a while..?”. This is most certainly not the case for Paul Redmond and the ethos at Team Ryano.

“[Training’s] going great,” he proclaimed. “The last fight was one of them stupid losses I just wanted to get out of my head. Literally the next day on New Year’s Day I had a big feed that day and straight back into the gym on the Thursday. I just wanted to get back training again. I had no injuries coming out of that fight, it was more my pride than anything.

“I wouldn’t change a thing. I don’t think there’s a need to change a thing.”

This mantra is one shared between both Team Ryano and SBG Ireland, one where the training is focused on the fighter, and not their opponent. With both teams spearheading the MMA revolution in Ireland, Redmond remarked on how far it’s all come inside just two years.

“With Conor [McGregor] where he is, and other guys doing well for themselves; Chris Fields won a world title, Cathal Pendred won a world title. The Irish lads aren’t just there to make up the numbers,” said an emphatic Redmond. “There are good fighters here. They’re all knocking on the UFC – Cathal [Pendred], Chris [Fields], Ais Daly. With Conor in, it’s already bringing a big spotlight on us.”

The spotlight has been quite focused on Team Ryano as of late it must be said, and for all positive reasons. First off, they recently opened up a new facility in Finglas, which is being run by Neil Seery and John Donnelly. Redmond is clearly excited by the idea of both Andy Ryan and John Kavanagh being more or less forced into expanding due to demand.cwfc

“We were just talking about this tonight actually,” Redmond went on. “We usually have the boxing class on a Tuesday. You could not move on the mat. Just new faces, new bodies. Everyone down. Really good. For John Kavanagh to HAVE TO open up a super-gym (SBG Concorde), that’s great news for guys. He needs a gym to accommodate people coming in so obviously the numbers are there and Andy’s opening up a second gym in Finglas.”

Redmond went on to remark on the positive vibes inside the Team Ryano walls, describing the atmosphere and pointing out some of the recent successes not just in MMA.

“The atmosphere down here is great. Even the lads not training for fights. Everyone gets a bit of stick. It’s great, just a good atmosphere and everybody’s doing really well for themselves. Neil won the world title, Karl Roache won the gold medal in the Absolute Brown Belt (Brazilian jiu-jitsu) in Portugal and got a gold medal in the Euros as well. There’s people winning all over the place.”

Adding to that, Team Ryano recently added another Redmond to their ranks, John Redmond, who opted to leave Paul Cowzer’s team at Rush Fight Academy to focus more on advancing his own fight career.

“John’s always trained. Paul Cowzer’s always been affiliated with Andy,” Redmond explained. “John has always been more than welcome to come up if he has a fight coming up, it benefits everybody from sparring with each other.

“I don’t know the reasoning behind it, I was talking to him there earlier. There’s no animosity there. Andy’s a black belt though, and you just can’t get that level of training elsewhere. It’s just one of them things.”

It’s fair to say that Paul Redmond would rather speak about his training partners and their achievements rather than his own, but Redmond’s is a name that has been mentioned in passing as one that might be involved should the UFC return in September. “Redser” doesn’t see it that way though.

“I don’t think that far ahead. I wouldn’t put myself in that category, not yet. Of course if you put me in there I’d fight any of them, no problem, but I just don’t think I’m on the UFC’s radar the way that Neil [Seery] is or Cathal is. Cathal’s after beating Che Mills. Neil’s after dropping down to flyweight and run through four of his last five opponents. He lost to your man Sitenkov, but he just comes for the kneebar, and if he doesn’t get it he packs up after the first round but fair play, he got it. Then Neil stopped Marin with a kick to the liver, nobody had stopped him and nobody has since you know? Even if the UFC came there’s names ahead of me so far.

“I’d like to win the Cage Warriors lightweight title first. I’d like to get around two more wins and get a crack at that.”

The journey continues in less than two weeks at Cage Warriors 65 in Dublin, when Redmond takes on Damien Brown.

Paul Redmond vs. Marc Allen, The Helix, Dublin, June 1st 2013.

Team Ryano’s newest facility is located on the Jamestown Road Business Park in Finglas. For all times and classes check out their Facebook page at Team RYANO Finglas.

Photo Credit – Dolly Crew / Cage Warriors

American Hustle and Gravity vie for Oscars

Con drama American Hustle and space movie Gravity lead this year’s Oscar nominations with 10 nods each.

American Hustle was shortlisted in all four acting categories for its stars Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.

It is also up for best picture alongside Gravity, which earned a best director nod for Alfonso Cuaron and best actress for Sandra Bullock.

12 Years a Slave’s nine nominations included best director and picture.

“I’m just very excited,” British director Steve McQueen told the BBC. “My goodness, nine nominations – a lot of them British. We worked very hard and we’re privileged to be in this position.”

The film’s stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong’o were also nominated in the best actor, supporting actor and supporting actress categories.

British film Philomena is up for four awards, including best picture.

Captain Phillips, 12 Years a Slave, Nebraska, The Wolf of Wall Street, Dallas Buyers Club and Her are also among the nine films nominated for the coveted top award.

In the best director category, David O Russell faces competition from McQueen, Cuaron, Nebraska’s Alexander Payne and Martin Scorsese for The Wolf of Wall Street.

His film American Hustle is only the 15th movie in Oscars’ history to land nominations in the four main acting categories – although no film has ever won all the awards.

Russell achieved the same feat with Silver Linings Playbook last year, when all four of his key actors were nominated – with Lawrence winning best actress.

The director told the BBC he was “humbled” by the nominations.

“You always worry, as sort of the captain, that one of your great performers is not going to get recognised… but you still pray for them all,” he said.

“They all put so much into it and they did it together, so it’s nice none of them got left out.”

It is Adams’s fifth Oscar nomination – and her first in the leading actress category – having previously been nominated for her supporting roles in The Master (2012), The Fighter (2010), Doubt (2008) and Junebug (2005) – however she has never collected a statuette to date.

She will compete with Bullock, Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine, Dame Judi Dench for Philomena and Meryl Streep – who scored her 18th Oscar nomination – for August: Osage County.

Dame Judi said: “This is just the loveliest news. I’m so happy for everybody involved, and so proud to have been part of the wonderful experience that Philomena has been.”

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The best actor category sees British stars Bale and Ejiofor up against Bruce Dern for Nebraska, Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street and Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club.

McConaughey, who won a Golden Globe on Sunday for his performance in the Aids drama, said he was “honoured and grateful”.

Britain’s Sally Hawkins is up for best supporting actress for her role in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, alongside Lawrence, Nyong’o, Julia Roberts for August: Osage County and June Squibb for Nebraska.

In the best supporting actor category, Fassbender and Cooper will vie with Jonah Hill for The Wolf of Wall Street, Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips and Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club.

Leto, who also won a Golden Globe for his role as a transsexual woman in the film, said he was “absolutely blown away by this incredible nomination”.

Gravity’s other seven nominations included a host of British talent recognised in the film and sound editing, production design, visual effects and music categories.

Philomena, based on the true story of an Irish woman who was forced to give up her son, was also nominated for best original score and adapted screenplay for its writers Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope.

Coogan told the BBC he was “absolutely dumbfounded” at the recognition.

“It’s way beyond anything we hoped for,” he said. “You’ll always be an Oscar nominee whether you win or not, it’s an incredible achievement.

“I failed my English O level twice and I’ve got an Oscar nomination for best screenplay – if I can do it anyone can.”

The five films competing for the best animated feature prize include The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Frozen, Japanese film The Wind Rises and Belgian animation Ernest & Celestine – the story of an unlikely friendship between a bear and a mouse.

Irish band U2 were nominated for best original song for Ordinary Love, which featured in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

It is the second nod for the group, who were previously nominated in 2003 for their song The Hands That Built America, from Gangs of New York.

However, the film’s star – Idris Elba – was among some notable omissions for his role as Nelson Mandela.

Other actors who didn’t make the cut included Tom Hanks for Captain Phillips, Emma Thompson for Saving Mr Banks and Robert Redford for All Is Lost.

There was also no recognition for biographical drama The Butler, while Paul Greengrass and the Coen brothers were overlooked in the best director category – with the Coen’s film Inside Llewyn Davis earning just two nominations, despite high expectations.

The winners will be announced at the Oscars ceremony on Sunday 2 March at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres.

 

***All text and pics completely copied and pasted from here and the official Academy Twitter page.

Juan Mata Progress Report

After Juan Mata’s much publicised transfer from Chelsea to Manchester United in January for a club record £37.1 million, a high percentage of the spotlight has been put on the little Spaniard and how he will fit into David Moyes’ struggling United side.

The debut – Mata is hailed by the home crowd

Making his debut against Cardiff in a comfortable 2-0 victory, starting behind returning front man Robin van Persie in attack, it looked as if the two-time Chelsea ‘Player of the Season’ had taken little time to blend in, having a big involvement in both Ashley Young and Robin van Persie’s goals. The performance overall was poor though, and Mata was overall quite effective. The next step was seeing how well he’d gel with Wayne Rooney coming back into the side.

Back to reality…

Against Stoke City the following week at the Britannia Stadium, Mata started from the left, with Rooney playing in his usual position behind RVP. After Stoke took the lead through a fortuitous Michael Carrick own goal, Mata’s wizardry shone through as he slid a beautiful through ball into the path of van Persie, who duly obliged to score his second Mata-assisted goal in two games. You would have probably expected United to push on from here and win the game but alas, everybody’s least favourite Scotsman since Barry Ferguson popped up with an absolute cracking strike from 30 yards to give Stoke the 2-1 win. One win, one defeat, two Mata assists.

Can United cross? They always cross..

The next game was expected to be a routine home victory against bottom of the table Fulham, thought nothing about Manchester United this season has been routine. Once again fielding the trio of Mata, Rooney and van Persie, with Ashley Young playing wide left, David Moyes’ side, despite struggling all season were surely going to easily dispatch of relegation-threatened Fulham, right? Wrong. It was one of the most abject and confusing performances under Moyes’ reign. Utilising “conference tactics” according to one Fulham defender, United set a record for crosses into the box with 81 attempts. Disheartening. In the first half Fulham even took the lead through a breakaway move when Rooney and Fletcher lost Steve Sidwell who charged through the midfield to sent the ball past David De Gea. It wasn’t until the 78th minute that United equalised through Robin van Persie, before Michael Carrick’s deflected effort put the defending champions ahead 80 seconds later. Fulham weren’t going to go away though. Though they defended for their lives, they were always a danger on the counterattack, breaking United hearts in stoppage when Darren Bent nodded in from close range to make it 2-2. As for Mata’s contribution, it was hard to judge. The gameplan seemed to be to get the ball, and pass out wide to either Young, Rafael or Evra. Mata found pockets of space, but the imaginations wasn’t there. As many observers joked, “Giving David Moyes Juan Mata is like giving your grandad a smartphone”.

Was the Arsenal v United game called off too?

It was a match that scant United fans would have been optimistic about. Playing against perennial table toppers Arsenal in the own back garden is a daunting task for any team in the Barclay’s Premier League. The Gunners were coming off a 5-1 humbling against a rampant Liverpool side at Anfield. United were coming off an embarrassing draw against the worst team in the league. Both needed a win. Surely this would be one to remember? It was not to be. While United had the better of the chances, two missed sitters from the generally reliable RVP, Arsenal were more blunt in attack than they’d been all season. United defended stoutly, afraid to bring the ball out from defence too often. It was also one of Mata’s poorer performances, struggling to get anything going with an out of sorts Wayne Rooney. He tried but it just seemed like once again he wasn’t sure what his job was. The game ended nil all, in a match that both teams were so clearly happy to end. Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger even went as far as to admit that Arsenal were “nervous”. Against THIS United side? Strange one.

Overall rating so far: 6.5/10