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The Film Review

6 Actors Who Have Both an Oscar and a Razzie

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The Film Review

The day before the Academy Awards are given out, there’s another awards ceremony to hand out a not-so-prestigious statue: the Golden Raspberry, given out to the worst stuff Hollywood has thrown our way in the previous year. Occasionally, the Razzie and Oscar worlds collide when some of the best thespians in the world star in very bad movies. In the case of Sandra Bullock, those worlds collided on the very same weekend. The other actors received the awards years or even decades apart from one another. Here’s the small list of double “winners.”

1. Laurence Olivier

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Olivier is widely considered to be one of the best actors of the 20th century. He won a Best Actor Oscar for Hamlet in 1948, and had roles in Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, Othello, Rebecca, Henry V, Richard III, Romeo and Juliet, and Spartacus. He also has a Supporting Actor Razzie for 1980's The Jazz Singer. I guess you can’t win ‘em all.

2. Liza Minnelli

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“It might have been cute in 1981, but alcoholism isn't so funny anymore. For that matter, neither is Dudley Moore,” said the Washington Post of Liza Minelli's turn in Arthur 2. If that wasn’t bad enough, Liza also partnered with Burt Reynolds in 1987 for an equally atrocious movie called Rent-a-Cop. That movie made under $300,000 at the box office. Her Razzie honored the back-to-back bombs.

3. Kevin Costner

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Costner is one of the all-time Razzie greats with three wins and seven nominations. He took home awards for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, The Postman, and Wyatt Earp. The latter two were huge box office flops, but Robin Hood was a huge box office success. Although Costner has never won a Best Actor Oscar, he did win Best Director in 1990 for Dances with Wolves.

4. Roberto Benigni

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Benigni famously made headlines for his Life Is Beautiful Best Actor win in 1999. His excitement is just as charming today as it was 14 years ago, by the way. Not as charming? The 2002 movie Pinocchio. The Benigni-starring take on the fairy tale classic earned a zero percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and I’m sure I can’t sum up the travesty of this movie better than they do:
“It's altogether likely that there have been more sudden, precipitous falls from grace in cinema than the one Roberto Benigni suffered between Life is Beautiful and Pinocchio, but none spring to mind. In any event, this film undoubtedly marks the first (and last) time an Academy award-winning actor chose to follow the greatest triumph of his career by dressing up in pink pajamas and playing a boy carved from a log.”

5. Halle Berry

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Just two years after winning her Oscar for Monster’s Ball in 2002, Berry received a Razzie for playing the title role in Catwoman. Berry accepted her award in person, saying, “It was just what my career needed. I was at the top and now I’m at the bottom.” She later said she attended the ceremony because her mother always taught her that if you can’t be a good loser, you can’t be a good winner.

6. Sandra Bullock

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Upon hearing that she was nominated for a Worst Actress Razzie for All About Steve in 2010, Bullock promised to accept in person if she was unlucky enough to win. She won, of course, and actually left a charity event she was at to go pick up her award, even providing the DVD for everyone in the audience. The sting of Sandra’s Golden Raspberry win was pretty fleeting, though—less than 24 hours later, she accepted a Best Actress Oscar for The Blind Side. Check out her incredibly good-natured Razzie acceptance speech below.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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Name the Author Based on the Character
May 23, 2017
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