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2016 Rising: The Grand Finale and Predicting My Awards

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I like the poster. I liked the trailer. Will I like the film? (Source)

Let’s talk about 2016. Though you may understandably be reluctant so to do.

I don’t think many will disagree when I say this has been a bad year. They might take exception to the word “bad.” Which is fair. It might be better to say this year has been so crushingly weak.

But do the next two months offer some hope of salvation? That’s what I hope to determine.

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A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST Review – **½

Really, this poster's attempts at humor are about on par with the film itself.

Really, this poster’s attempts at humor are about on par with the film itself.

After the success of Ted, Seth MacFarlane’s future as a filmmaker seemed assured. When the sequel to Ted drops next June, his future may again seem so. But now, in the face of poor reviews and weak box office (and, for my money, the shortcomings of Ted itself), it’s fair to wonder whether MacFarlane is really cut out for the cinema. I won’t deny that I laughed, but A Million Ways to Die in the West is hugely uneven and often rather baffling. As I’ve said elsewhere, you might as well just watch Django Unchained or Blazing Saddles, unless you really want to see someone shit in a hat.

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NON-STOP Review – ***

Non-Stop is about as good a February-release thriller as you could ask for (Side Effects is much better, but an anomaly in that regard); it’s brisk, it holds your attention, it doesn’t make too many leaps of logic–a few, yes, but I was never taken out of the story by them. Liam Neeson anchors it with a smoothly professional performance, Jaume Collet-Serra directs it well, and in most respects it quite lives up to the modest promise of the trailer.

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THE LEGO MOVIE Review – ***½

Not an unqualified masterpiece, but highly enjoyable.

MILD SPOILERS.

I’m not going to write my most in-depth review here. I actually saw the film over a week ago, and am only just now reviewing it, so it’s not perfectly fresh in my mind. But no matter.

The response to this film has been insane. It’s not only been a huge hit (at $143.8 million to date, it’s more than doubled its budget), but it was a critical smash as well; with a score of 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s more highly rated than some Oscar contenders. This level of acclaim can be a problem for me, because the twin demons of anticipation and contrarianism sit on my shoulders and drive me to find fault, to say “it wasn’t as good as it could have been” or “it isn’t as good as everyone is saying”. And, to be completely honest, it isn’t. It’s a ***½ film, not a **** film (though it’s close). And why is that?

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