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11 Daredevil Stunts That Pushed Human Limits

An Austrian daredevil named Felix Baumgartner plans to break the world record for highest skydive in August. After taking an air balloon to 120,000 feet, he'll step out of his helium cocoon at the edge of space and break the sound barrier on his way back to earth.

Sound exciting? It's already been done. Here's a list of eleven impossible stunts pulled off by very real human beings.

1. Joseph Kittinger

Kittinger was Baumgartner's inspiration and the current record holder. As the head of an Air Force program called Project Excelsior, Kittinger made several extremely high jumps to test new parachute designs. In August 1960 he made his highest ascent, to 102,800 feet. At 43,000 feet the pressure lock on his right glove failed. His hand, which was basically being exposed to outer space, swelled enormously. He carried on without informing his base, then jumped from the balloon once it reached target altitude. Fortunately, the hand returned to normal size back on earth. He went on to volunteer for duty in Vietnam, where he was shot down and spent almost a year in an NVA prison camp. Watch the dive video:

2. Reinhold Messner

Before Ben Folds Five unknowingly appropriated his name for an album, Messner was mostly known as the world's most famous mountain climber.

He was the first person in the world to climb every mountain taller than 8,000 meters, and in 1978 he pulled off a feat that was thought suicidal: he climbed Mount Everest without oxygen tanks. Hysteria ensued in the climbing community and, to silence his critics, he did it again in 1980. Alone. No one has repeated his feat since. Below, a clip from his and Peter Habeler's 1978 ascent of Everest without oxygen tanks.

3. William Trubridge

Trubridge is perhaps the world's best free diver, which is the art of diving without SCUBA gear. With only the air in their lungs while submerged, free divers see how far down they can swim. According to the official free diving website, Trubridge recently passed a landmark depth: he descended 101 meters in an unaided free dive. That's 331 feet down on a single breath. Watch the official video of the record-setting dive:

4. John Stapp

Stapp tested the limits of gravitational endurance by repeatedly exposing himself to G forces beyond what was thought possible to survive. He led a series of Air Force tests in rapid deceleration, the last of which exposed him to forces in excess of 40 g. His eyes bled, he suffered two broken wrists, and dust particles caused rashes on his body, but he sustained no permanent injuries. His work paved the way for the use of crash test dummies, and he later championed the inclusion of seat belts in automobiles.

Col. Stapp in a helmet that measures G forces. Image from the David Hill collection via The Ejection Site.

5. Philippe Petit

This French high wire artist was profiled in the Oscar-winning documentary Man on Wire (trailer below). After successfully tightrope walking the cathedral at Notre Dame and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Petit set his eyes on the newly erected World Trade Center towers in 1974. In a fascinating feat that was as much a heist story as it was a physical accomplishment, Petit and his team successfully bypassed security at the towers, then fired a rope from one rooftop to the other with a bow and arrow (they first used fishing line). Petit danced on the rope for forty-five minutes as a crowd gathered below, making eight passes in all. He was arrested as soon as he stepped off the line, but charges were dropped in exchange for another show in Central Park.

6. Jordan Romero

Romero has climbed the peaks of the highest mountain on every continent. That might not sound very outlandish until you hear that he summited them all before age 16—the youngest to ever do so. He climbed Everest before his 14th birthday. Controversy erupted afterward about whether people so young should be allowed on such a dangerous mountain. The Chinese government then imposed an age requirement (18) for all climbers. Romero's record isn't likely to be broken anytime soon.

7. Martin Strel

Strel has swum the length of the world's greatest rivers: the Danube, the Mississippi, the Yangtze, and, most notoriously, the Amazon. Aside from the challenge of swimming 50 miles per day, the native Slovenian had to contend with Dengue, sunburn, extreme currents, and Candiru—blood-sucking parasitic catfish that invade their host's urethra. Strel said, "I was attacked by piranhas a few times — at one point they were eating my back." His team's solution? Pouring buckets of blood in the water nearby, diverting their attention. To unwind from the enormous stress of the river, Strel drank up to two bottles of wine each day. He completed the Amazon swim in 66 days, as seen in Big River Man (trailer below).

8. Alain Bombard

This French physician crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a rubber dinghy named l'Hérétique that was equipped with a sextant, oars, a singlesail, and the works of Shakespeare and Montaigne to keep him company. Bombard tested his ideas about survival while stranded at sea by sailing 2,900 miles from the Canary Islands to Barbados in October 1952. After bidding his newlywed wife and baby girl adieu, he went to sea alone. He speared fish with a homemade harpoon and ate surface plankton that he caught with a net. For fresh water, he pressed water from the bodies of fish, sometimes mixing it with a small amount of ocean water in a cocktail he called "a very pleasant drink, not unlike Vichy water." When he arrived in Barbados 65 days later, he had lost 55 pounds. He and his wife had four more children.

Two of the covers for Bombard's 1958 French-language book about his experience, Naufragé Volontaire.

9. Charlie Engle, Kevin Lin, & Ray Zahab

In 2006, this trio ran from Senegal to Cairo—right across the Sahara desert. Their route took them over 4,300 miles through six countries. They ran to highlight the lack of access to clean water in North Africa. A documentary crew financed by Matt Damon accompanied them. They planned to complete the run in 80 days, but ended up taking 111. If that sounds like an underachievement, consider that it still works out to a rate of almost 39 miles a day, in 120 degree heat. Each runner used roughly 25 pairs of Nikes. Engle reported that he drank 1,411 liters of Gatorade. Aside from urinating in minefields and braving Col. Gaddafi's Libya, the trio ran along the "Highway of Dead Animals" in Mauritania, where roadkill littered the asphalt because drivers exceed 100 MPH. Watch their journey in Running the Sahara (trailer below).

10. Felicity Aston

Aston very recently became the first woman to complete a solo crossing of Antarctica. The 1056 mile journey took 59 days, with Aston carrying all of her gear behind her on sleds. Through it all she tweeted updates to followers about how the journey was going. After making it back to civilization and having her fill of cake and ice cream (she had lost 18 pounds), Aston tweeted about one of the biggest re-adjustments to normal life: "Having to remind myself of the rules now I'm not alone; no peeing wherever I stand, no talking to the sun, no snot or dribble on my face..." Below, the video she recorded when she reached the end of her journey.

11. Lewis Gordon Pugh

Pugh is the only person to ever log a long distance swim in each of the world's major oceans, and that isn't even his biggest accomplishment. In 2005 and 2007, he went for one kilometer dips at both the North Pole and off the coast of Antarctica. His attire? A Speedo, swim cap, and goggles. Through a neat trick he calls "anticipatory thermo-genesis," Pugh is able to raise his body temperature to 101 degrees right before a plunge in freezing waters. Despite this unique ability, his temperature dropped to 91.4 degrees immediately after his swim in Antarctica. Some swimmers fear sharks, but in Pugh's environment, his greatest fear is different: leopard seals. Below, the official video from his North Pole swim.

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10 Fun Facts About Spice World
Hulton Archive, Getty Images
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

In 1996, the Spice Girls took the world by storm when they released the song “Wannabe” from their debut album, Spice. Their mantra of “Girl Power” inspired a generation of young women to “Spice Up Your Life.” After Spice sold 31 million copies worldwide, the inevitable next step was the Girls starring on the big screen. So 20 years ago, on January 23, 1998, Columbia Pictures unleashed Spice World on American moviegoers.

In their film debut, the Girls—Melanie Brown (Scary Spice), Melanie Chisholm (Sporty Spice), Emma Bunton (Baby Spice), Geri Halliwell (Ginger Spice), and Victoria Beckham (Posh Spice)—played comical versions of themselves. The plot revolved around them trying to perform their biggest show yet, at London's Royal Albert Hall, while a tabloid newspaper reporter spied on them. And their best friend went into labor. And Ginger Spice kissed an alien.

Director Bob Spiers recruited several British luminaries to cameo, with Roger Moore, Bob Hoskins, Elvis Costello, Jennifer Saunders, and Elton John among those who appeared in the film. The Spice Girls were so popular that Prince Charles and his sons, Princes William and Harry, attended the Spice World premiere.

The movie, budgeted at $25 million, grossed a robust $100 million worldwide, despite Roger Ebert giving it a half-star rating and writing that the Girls were “so detached they can’t even successfully lip-synch their own songs.”

Spice World was nominated for seven Razzies, and won one: Worst Actress, an honor shared by all five Girls. In a 2007 UK poll, it was voted the worst film ever made. But over the years the film has endured. Esquire suggested it was better than The Beatles’s A Hard’s Day Night, and the podcast How Did This Get Made? spent more than an hour debating the film’s ridiculous plot.

Though the best-selling girl group of all time disbanded in 2000, Spice World remains a relic of Spice Mania. On its 20th anniversary, here are 10 fun facts about the film.

1. IT TOOK ONLY A YEAR FROM THE IDEA TO THE FINISHED FILM.

Prince Charles and Prince Harry pose with Spice Girls Victoria Beckham Mel C
WALTER DHLADHLA, AFP, Getty Images

Barnaby Thompson, one of the film’s producers, started a production company with Annie Lennox’s husband at the time, Uri Fruchtmann. Lennox and the Girls shared the same manager, Simon Fuller. Over lunch, Fuller, Fruchtmann, Thompson, and Fuller’s brother Kim decided they’d make the movie. "We finished it within a year of that lunch," Thompson told The Telegraph. "That lunch was on November 1, 1996 and we delivered the film exactly a year later, November 1, 1997."

2. THE GIRLS STOPPED TRAFFIC IN FRANCE.

By May 1997, the Girls had four number-one singles in the UK, and were one of the most popular music groups in the world. To create anticipation for Spice World, the producers took the women to the Cannes Film Festival, even though the film hadn’t been shot yet. "We put out a photo call notice," publicist Dennis Davidson said. "The traffic on the Croisette came to a standstill, there was a screaming crowd, people hanging out of the windows, it was totally insane." An estimated 5000 to 10,000 people showed up to see the pop stars. The film shot around London between June and August of 1997.

3. RICHARD E. GRANT’S DAUGHTER FORCED HIM TO DO THE MOVIE.

Richard E. Grant attends 'Their Finest' after party during the 60th BFI London Film Festival at on October 13, 2016.
John Phillips, Getty Images for BFI

Richard E. Grant’s 9-year-old daughter was a fan of the Spice Girls and when he was offered the part of the Girls’ manager, Clifford, she told him he had to do it, despite his concerns about “my acting credibility.” “And she’d say, ‘No, no, you have to. You have to because I want to meet them,’” Grant told Vulture in 2014. “So I did, and she was so thrilled. I had school playground credibility for about two semesters and then of course you dip into the other side when they go, ‘No, I was never a Spice Girls fan!’ Now that generation has all come back around again going, ‘Yeah, we love the Spice Girls!’”

4. SHAKESPEARE HELPED CAST ALAN CUMMING.

Alan Cumming played a less-than-Shakespearean role in the movie as a paparazzo-like guy named Piers Cuthbertson-Smyth. Ginger Spice was the one who suggested him to the casting department. “I remember seeing Alan Cumming performing as Hamlet [at the Donmar Warehouse],” she told The Telegraph. “When it came to Spice World, however many years later, it came to casting and we were going through pictures and I was like, ‘Let’s pick him, I saw him in Hamlet.’ It was brilliant to have that caliber of actors to be in our funny movie.”

5. YOU CAN VISIT THE SPICE BUS.

The Spice Girls arrive atop a double decker bus for a screening of their new movie 'Spice World' in New York.
HENNY RAY ABRAMS, AFP, Getty Images

The 1978 British Leyland Bristol VRTSL3 double decker bus, covered with the Union Jack on the outside and a swing on the inside, made its debut in the movie. Though a bomb destroyed it at the end of the movie, in real life it was saved. However, after filming ended the bus fell into disrepair, until the Island Harbour Marina, located on the Isle of Wight, purchased the beauty and restored it to its original state. They put it on permanent display in July 2014. The only thing the bus is missing is Meat Loaf driving it.

6. WITHNAIL AND I CONVINCED ELVIS COSTELLO TO MAKE A CAMEO.

In an interview with The A.V. Club, Elvis Costello said he loved Richard E. Grant’s film Withnail and I. “You know, I thought, ‘If I go to IMDb, I’m only a couple of clicks away from Withnail!,’” he said. Costello, who plays a barman in the movie, said he found his role to be “ironic.” “I’d only quit drinking a couple of years before, so I think the idea of being a barman was sort of ironic in my mind.”

7. THE PRODUCTION MADE SURE THE GIRLS DIDN’T READ THE SCRIPT.

Kim Fuller wrote the script (with additional writing from Jamie Curtis), which was originally titled Five. He knew the Girls might not like the script, or even read it. He gathered the ladies in a hotel in London. “I went in and said, ‘Look, turn your phones off, this is serious. I’m going to read you the story,’” he said.

They liked the story, and Ginger Spice contributed script ideas, even when she was in Bali. “I was spending hours on the phone trying to get it all sorted out and make sure that it was right,” she said. “By the time that we started, it was almost perfect.”

8. BUT THEY DIDN’T STICK TO THE SCRIPT.

Fuller said he gave them daily script pages and then they rehearsed it. “You needed to catch them at the right moment, when the energy is there,” Fuller said. “They’re not going to do 20 takes of one line, you know, so you had to think quickly on your feet.” In the Spice World documentary, Mel B confessed that she and the Girls interpreted the script. “We contributed our own little sparkle on top of it,” she said. “There were some times when we’d say the lines wrong just to make us laugh,” Baby Spice added. But those improvisations caused the script supervisor to almost quit.

"The script lady went beserk and nearly resigned because we kept changing everything," Fuller told The Telegraph. "There were a lot of flowers and we consoled her for a while and everything was fine after that."

9. THE GIRLS RECORDED AN ALBUM WHILE FILMING.

Their first album was such a massive hit that they needed to record their sophomore album to keep up the momentum. In order to fit in filming the movie and recording Spiceworld (one word), they had a mobile studio on set. They ended up writing some of the album’s—and movie’s—songs during production.

“It was quite good doing the album at the same time as the film because we were always hyperactive after a day on set and that meant we could go in the mobile studio and vibe off each other,” Posh told The Telegraph. They managed to film during the day and record at night. Virgin Records released the album on November 3, 1997, and most of Spiceworld’s songs made it into the movie, which meant there was an unofficial soundtrack.

10. MEL C LOVES THE MOVIE.

Melanie Chisholm (Sporty Spice) at the premiere of 'Spice World'
Brenda Chase, Getty Images

Mel C told The Telegraph that the film was difficult for her to watch, but when her daughter and friends wanted to watch it at a birthday party, Mel changed her mind. “I sat down with them and I actually really enjoyed it,” she said. “I laughed out loud. It brought back so many memories, and I think enough time has passed for me to be able to watch myself. You know in a way, it is brilliant. It’s very tongue-in-cheek, very silly. And the thing that I really realized was there was so much of us in it. It was very, very real.”

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Here's The Full List of 2018 Oscar Nominations
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

There are only two things that can get Hollywood’s biggest stars out of bed at 5 a.m.: an early call time or Academy Award nominations. The nominees for the 90th annual Oscars were announced on Tuesday morning, and represented a great year in movies.

Guillermo del Toro’s merman-meets-woman love story The Shape of Water leads this year’s nominees with a total of 13 nominations, followed by Martin McDonagh’s divisive Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which received nine nominations.

Jordan Peele and Greta Gerwig both made some Oscar history with their nominations for Best Director: Peele is the fifth black director to compete for the statuette (joining John Singleton, Lee Daniels, Steve McQueen, and Barry Jenkins—none of whom have won the award) while Gerwig is the fifth woman to be nominated for the prize (in 2010, Kathryn Bigelow became the first female Best Director winner with The Hurt Locker).

The Academy Awards will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel for a second time, and will air on March 4, 2018. Which movies will you be rooting for on Oscar night?

BEST PICTURE

Call Me by Your Name
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

LEAD ACTOR

Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

LEAD ACTRESS

Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
Meryl Streep, The Post

SUPPORTING ACTOR

Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

DIRECTOR

Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Jordan Peele, Get Out
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

ANIMATED FEATURE

The Boss Baby, Tom McGrath, Ramsey Ann Naito
The Breadwinner, Nora Twomey, Anthony Leo
Coco, Lee Unkrich, Darla K. Anderson
Ferdinand, Carlos Saldanha
Loving Vincent, Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, Sean Bobbitt, Ivan Mactaggart, Hugh Welchman

ANIMATED SHORT

Dear Basketball, Glen Keane, Kobe Bryant
Garden Party, Victor Caire, Gabriel Grapperon
Lou, Dave Mullins, Dana Murray
Negative Space, Max Porter, Ru Kuwahata
Revolting Rhymes, Jakob Schuh, Jan Lachauer

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Call Me by Your Name, James Ivory
The Disaster Artist, Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
Logan, Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green
Molly’s Game, Aaron Sorkin
Mudbound, Virgil Williams and Dee Rees

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

The Big Sick, Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani
Get Out, Jordan Peele
Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig
The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Martin McDonagh

CINEMATOGRAPHY

Blade Runner 2049, Roger Deakins
Darkest Hour, Bruno Delbonnel
Dunkirk, Hoyte van Hoytema
Mudbound, Rachel Morrison
The Shape of Water, Dan Laustsen

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, Steve James, Mark Mitten, Julie Goldman
Faces Places, JR, Agnès Varda, Rosalie Varda
Icarus, Bryan Fogel, Dan Cogan
Last Men in Aleppo, Feras Fayyad, Kareem Abeed, Soren Steen Jepersen
Strong Island, Yance Ford, Joslyn Barnes

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

Edith+Eddie, Laura Checkoway, Thomas Lee Wright
Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405, Frank Stiefel
Heroin(e), Elaine McMillion Sheldon, Kerrin Sheldon
Knife Skills, Thomas Lennon
Traffic Stop, Kate Davis, David Heilbroner

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

DeKalb Elementary, Reed Van Dyk
The Eleven O’Clock, Derin Seale, Josh Lawson
My Nephew Emmett, Kevin Wilson, Jr.
The Silent Child, Chris Overton, Rachel Shenton
Watu Wote/All of Us, Katja Benrath, Tobias Rosen

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

A Fantastic Woman (Chile)
The Insult (Lebanon)
Loveless (Russia)
On Body and Soul (Hungary)
The Square (Sweden)

FILM EDITING

Baby Driver, Jonathan Amos, Paul Machliss
Dunkirk, Lee Smith
I, Tonya, Tatiana S. Riegel
The Shape of Water, Sidney Wolinsky
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Jon Gregory

SOUND EDITING

Baby Driver, Julian Slater
Blade Runner 2049, Mark Mangini, Theo Green
Dunkirk, Alex Gibson, Richard King
The Shape of Water, Nathan Robitaille, Nelson Ferreira
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Ren Klyce, Matthew Wood

SOUND MIXING

Baby Driver, Mary H. Ellis, Julian Slater, Tim Cavagin
Blade Runner 2049, Mac Ruth, Ron Bartlett, Doug Hephill
Dunkirk, Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker, Gary A. Rizzo
The Shape of Water, Glen Gauthier, Christian Cooke, Brad Zoern
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Stuart Wilson, Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick

PRODUCTION DESIGN

Beauty and the Beast, Sarah Greenwood; Katie Spencer
Blade Runner 2049, Dennis Gassner, Alessandra Querzola
Darkest Hour, Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer
Dunkirk, Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis
The Shape of Water, Paul D. Austerberry, Jeffrey A. Melvin, Shane Vieau

ORIGINAL SCORE

Dunkirk, Hans Zimmer
Phantom Thread, Jonny Greenwood
The Shape of Water, Alexandre Desplat
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, John Williams
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Carter Burwell

ORIGINAL SONG

"Mighty River" from Mudbound, Mary J. Blige
"Mystery of Love" from Call Me by Your Name, Sufjan Stevens
"Remember Me" from Coco, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez
"Stand Up for Something" from Marshall, Diane Warren, Common
"This Is Me" from The Greatest Showman, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul

MAKEUP AND HAIR

Darkest Hour, Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick
Victoria and Abdul, Daniel Phillips and Lou Sheppard
Wonder, Arjen Tuiten

COSTUME DESIGN

Beauty and the Beast, Jacqueline Durran
Darkest Hour, Jacqueline Durran
Phantom Thread, Mark Bridges
The Shape of Water, Luis Sequeira
Victoria and Abdul, Consolata Boyle

VISUAL EFFECTS

Blade Runner 2049, John Nelson, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover, Gerd Nefzer
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner, Dan Sudick
Kong: Skull Island, Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza, Mike Meinardus
Star Wars: The Last Jedi,  Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Chris Corbould, Neal Scanlon
War for the Planet of the Apes, Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Joel Whist

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