Oscar nominations from a pandemic year


In news that probably won’t shock you all that much, this year’s Oscars reflect a year spent mostly indoors and not in movie theaters. The Academy has announced the nominees for the 2021 Oscars, and Netflix is, again, the frontrunner, grabbing 31 nominations.

All those nominations won’t guarantee wins, sure, but David Fincher’s Mank dominated the shortlist. Its 10 nominations included Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Gary Oldman) and Best Supporting Actress (Amanda Seyfried).

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It wasn’t just Netflix either. Amazon picked up nominations for Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm, and Hulu’s The United States vs. Billie Holiday was also recognized. Disney+, even, the newest streaming service here, picked up a nomination for Soul, while Apple TV+ quietly grabbed two nominations.

The pandemic has given these services a huge chance at awards glory. We’ll have to wait until April 25th to see who wins out, but I doubt it’ll match the spectacle of last weekend’s Grammys.

— Mat Smith

How much is a good night’s rest worth?

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Managing Editor Terrence O’Brien wants more sleep. Video Producer Brian Oh does, too. That made them the perfect duo for trying out Bose’ second-generation Sleepbuds. If you were desperate to completely block the outside world and struggled to fall asleep every night, they might be a great investment — if they were a little bit cheaper. As Terrence puts it: “A $250 wearable white noise machine is borderline absurd.” Continue reading.

These games started in a single warehouse back in 2017 but are rolling out widely now.

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A few years ago, we wrote about Amazon’s attempt to gameify work in its warehouses with some social mini-games. Yes, I shuddered, too. The company is reportedly in the middle of a “major expansion” of the program, called FC Games. What initially started in one warehouse back in 2017 has now rolled out across 20 states, according to The Information.

Naturally, Amazon says that employees have told it that they enjoy “having the option to join in these workstation games.” The mini-games feature leaderboards and competitions against fellow employees, both at a single warehouse or against people at other facilities around the US. “The games aren’t particularly good, although some people do like it because it helps make the mind-numbing boredom of a 10-hour shift better,” an Amazon worker told The Information. In summary, the games have mixed reviews. Continue reading.

It’ll work with your Switch, PC and mobile.

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8BitDo has launched the follow-up to the SN30 Pro+ Bluetooth controller that came out in 2019, and it offers additional features for the same price. The $50 8BitDo Pro 2 has two back buttons you can assign any function to, so you don’t have to take your thumbs off the thumbsticks. You can program the buttons or remap them using a connected app on iOS or Android. You can even make dedicated controller profiles for certain games or platforms through the new app. The controller is available to pre-order now. Continue reading.

It will debut aboard the upcoming iX electric SUV.

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BMW’s iDrive infotainment system is one of the best, and it’s about to get a thoroughly modern upgrade with natural language processing, gesture controls and cloud-based machine learning. iDrive 8 will arrive on the upcoming BMW iX and i4, and drivers will be able to give BMW’s Intelligent Personal Assistant (IPA) a personalized name and cue up various in-vehicle functions and information readouts using verbal or non-verbal commands. Backing up the behind-the-scenes smarts is a new 12.3-inch curved display for your gauges and monitors, plus a 14.9-inch control (read, infotainment) display. Continue reading.

You’re a grown man, Elon.

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In the midst of Tesla’s SEC filing, Elon Musk has apparently claimed a new title, the “Technoking of Tesla,” for some reason. The company’s CFO, Zach Kirkhorn, has a new position that’s right out of Game of Thrones: Master of Coin. There’s also probably a nod there to the recent Bitcoin machinations of both Tesla and Musk himself. Last month, Tesla bought $1.5 billion worth of Bitcoin to help “diversify and maximize” its returns. The news juiced the price of Bitcoin further, hitting an all-time high of over $44,000.

The filing notes: “Elon and Zach will also maintain their respective positions as Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer.” Continue reading.

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