Five stories that have North Texas talking: “Hell or Highwater” was widely popular in Texas; stream a conversation on Dallas and the Legislature; James Baldwin’s lasting relevance; and more.
Before the Oscars on Sunday, take a look at how Texans’ taste in the nine films nominated for Best Picture varies from the rest of the country. Google News Lab and Polygraph created a map of regional interest in each film by analyzing YouTube trailer views in each movie’s opening week across 3,000 counties. To account for population differences, analysts looked at “whether a county’s viewing habits for each trailer were higher or lower than the rest of America.”
Given the size of Texas, interest in most films was concentrated in different areas of the state. For example, “Hidden Figures” was a hit mainly in the Houston area. There was one film though that was big across the state — “Hell or Highwater”. It tells a story of two West Texas brothers who rob banks to save the family ranch from foreclosure.
Austin was a major hotspot for the movie musical “La La Land”. Google explains that the film, nominated for 14 awards, was popular in Austin in part because “a local weatherman and TV host helped recreate an iconic La La Land sequence in a YouTube video set on the city’s Lamar Boulevard Bridge.”
Click through the images above to see how each movie measured up in Texas. The 89th Academy Awards will air on 7:30 p.m. on ABC. [Google News Lab, Polygraph]
- What do the major policy debates of the 85th Legislature — education, immigration, health care — mean for Dallas and its surrounding communities? The Texas Tribune is taking on those topics in a new event series, “Dallas and The Legislature,” which launches today. Starting at 8 a.m., Tribune co-founder and CEO Evan Smith will moderate a discussion between state Sen. Don Huffines and state Rep. Rafael Anchia. This event will be held at the Communities Foundation of Texas in Dallas. For those unable to attend, watch a live stream of the conversation. [The Texas Tribune]
- Poverty is surging at Kimball High School in Dallas. Fifteen years ago, 57 percent of the families were economically disadvantaged. Today, it’s 83 percent. The school is battling those numbers and turning around a dismal academic record — in part with its hospitality and tourism program. Kimball’s four-year Academy of Hospitality and Tourism has been around for 10 years. Director Delores White says this program has helped restore pride in Kimball after the state ranked the school academically unacceptable for five out of six years. Read the full story in our new American Graduate series, “Race, Poverty and the Changing Face of Schools.”
- Speaking of the Oscars, three of the five films nominated for Best Documentary focus on African Americans. This week, KERA’s Stephen Becker and Chris Vognar, culture critic for The Dallas Morning News, wrap up their Oscar series with “I Am Not Your Negro.” The film reminds viewers of writer and civil rights leader James Baldwin’s significance, 30 years after his death. Kenton Rambsy with the University of Texas at Arlington sat down with The Big Screen team to talk about Baldwin’s powerful voice on race, class, gender and the system. “He’s so relevant right now because he’s timeless.” Listen to the conversation. [Art&Seek]
- Dallas-based Heritage Auctions is like your neighbor’s estate sale on steroids. The eclectic mix of items currently up for bid costs a pretty penny, but for collectors, dropping thousands on one of Evel Knievel’s white leather jump suits from the ‘70s is worth it. Dallas Observer rounded up some choice artifacts from America’s past currently up for bid, including Babe Ruth’s 1930-1931 New York Yankees contract, a first-edition set of Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” and Muhammad Ali’s blazer that he wore during the 1960 Olympics — that’s when he still went by his given name, Cassius Clay. [Dallas Observer]