88th Academy Awards Picks and Predictions (2016)

Once again, it’s time for Oscar predictions.  I did pretty well last year, getting 16 correct once again (that seems to be what I always get [seriously, I didn’t even have to edit this sentence]). There are some tight races this year, but also a few sure things, so it’s bound to be an interesting evening. I can’t wait to see how Chris Rock tackles the shocking lack of diversity among the nominees. And while awards shows always seem fairly out of touch with popular opinion, I’ll always be a fan of the Oscars. So read on for my (dicey) predictions, as well as my picks if I could hand out the statues as I see fit. And then let me know who you think will be a big winner Sunday night!

Best Short Film, Live Action:
Prediction: Ave Maria
My Pick: N/A

Best Short Film, Animated:
Prediction: Sanjay’s Super Team
My Pick: Sanjay’s Super Team

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My Top 12 (and Bottom 3) at the Movies in 2015

We’ve almost reached the end of 2015, and it was a big year for movies. It’s been a year of long-awaited sequels, broken box office records, and some really fantastic movies. There was a lot to love from the movies in 2015, and a few things that weren’t quite so good, so here are my favorite and least favorite things from the world of cinema this year. I generally don’t do a “top 10 films” list, because I don’t get a chance to see everything, and many of the so-called “Oscar bait” films don’t get wide releases until after the year is over. Of course, the best part of 2015 at the movies was getting to interact with so many great people here on the blog, and on Twitter and Tumblr, but I lack the words to properly express my grattitude for you taking the time to read what I write, comment, and discuss movies with me. So instead I present my favorite (and least favorite) movie-related items from the year, comprised of films, characters, scenes, events, themes, and trends from 2015. And let’s hope 2016 is even better!

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Complaints, Praise, and Questions for Star Wars: The Force Awakens (spoilers!)

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens is almost impossible to discuss without spoiling something, which meant that my review had to be necessarily vague, constraining itself to what we’ve seen in the trailers and basic general knowledge about the film. But I have lots of thoughts still to share, so this article will be filled with spoilers. There’s a lot to discuss in The Force Awakens, both good and bad, and yes there’s actually a bit of bad. I may have given the film an A in my review but I have more than a few complaints, some of which are entirely a reflection of my own views of the franchise but others are legitimate issues with the film itself. I’m not going to dive back into the fact that I consider The Force Awakens to be (really good) fanfiction, but it’s safe to say that the events in the film felt somewhat inconsequential to me knowing that we weren’t seeing the true vision of George Lucas. But I don’t want this to turn into a nitpicky, whining article, because there were many things I loved about the film. And then there are just some observations and questions I was left with after my first viewing. Of course, my feelings on all of these might change the more I see the film, but let’s take a look at some spoiler filled thoughts about The Force Awakens.

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Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

No matter what the last few years of hype might have told us, bringing Star Wars back was always a risky move. It might seem like our current nostalgia-based pop culture consciousness will turn anything new that happens to be based on something familiar into an instant smash. But there’s always the chance that audiences might rebel, upset with the way their beloved stories have been altered, or fans and casual viewers might split, leading to endless debates over the “true” nature of the franchise. So despite the fact that Star Wars: The Force Awakens is poised to break every box-office record imaginable, gathering rave reviews from critics and viewers alike, and will likely catapult Star Wars, Disney, and a cast of faces both old and new to the highest of heights, the question still remains: is it any good? Put simply, the answer is an unequivocal yes. Almost 40 years after the series debuted, and over 10 years since its last entry, The Force Awakens is without a doubt the film that fans were screaming for. In fact, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the single greatest work of fanfiction ever made.

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All of the trailers and TV spots for Star Wars: The Force Awakens (with screencaps)

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By this point, every glimpse, shot, or tidbit of Star Wars: The Force Awakens we’ve seen thus far has been analyzed, dissected, and picked apart by anyone and everyone in the hopes of finding all of the clues to unlocking the story’s secrets. I’ve talked enough about my concerns about The Force Awakens as well as my feelings about how the film has been treated by the general populace, and I’m not going to go into that any more now. But I thought it’d be fun to take a look back at all of the trailers released for the film thus far with an eye not to solving all of the mysteries but instead looking at the larger picture. What I love most about trailers is the way they can evoke emotions with just a few images, a handful of musical notes, or the slightest bit of context. So let’s take it from the top with the very first trailer for The Force Awakens, which conveyed quite a lot from very little.

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