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Passengers: A Wasted Chris Pratt Oscar Nomination

There is no reason that Passengers had to be a mediocre film, and it is just that — mediocre. Though I certainly enjoyed parts of the film, there’s no chance I remember this movie next holiday season. That’s a shame because director Morten Tyldum’s film had a 110 million dollar budget and a star-studded cast. Passengers is the tale of Jim Preston, played by Chris Pratt, a traveler on the Starship Avalon, which is voyaging from an overpopulated Earth to a budding colony world. When a collision with a large asteroid causes Jim’s hibernation pod to malfunction, he finds himself alone aboard a ship nearly 90 years from its destination — doomed to never see the Avalon’s destination.

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Like the Assassins, Assassin’s Creed Will Stay in the Dark

Michael Fassbender’s Assassin’s Creed is probably the best video game movie adaptation I’ve ever seen and I hated it. Though this movie certainly has its own issues, which I’ll get into later, my greater frustration is that it continues the trend of video game movies falling flat. As someone who has spent most his life playing video games, it pains me to keep seeing my favorite franchises have their reputations smeared on the silver screen. Every release, from Tomb Raider to Mortal Kombat, has been a regular disappointment. I’d say the Resident Evil franchise has made waves but despite getting the green light for a total of five sequels its films get torn apart by critics and fans alike.

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TEST SPIN: Chance The Rapper & Jeremih — Merry Christmas Lil’ Mama

A holiday wishlist in 2016 is a strange concept, and I’ve found mine filled mostly with things that I don’t want. In no particular order: I don’t want any more surprise election outcomes, I don’t want music and film icons to continue dying in such quick succession and I don’t want to walk into another store that’s playing Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime.” I should have known that what I really wanted — what we all wanted — was a Christmas mixtape from Chance The Rapper and Jeremih. The surprise project arrives as a much-needed dose of relief, in particular for those faithful to the Church of Kanye West left rudderless by their leader’s newfound bromance. Last holiday season, I wrote a column on the sacred tradition of Christmas-themed rap songs, a small but undeniable canon that originated with Run-DMC’s classic “Christmas in Hollis” (which, not coincidentally, Chance parodied on last week’s SNL). In one fell swoop, Chance and Jeremih have nearly doubled the size of that canon, contributing nine original songs in a project more cohesive than it has any right to be.

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Space Barbarians: Brandon Graham and Simon Roy’s Prophet

I’ve been listening to a lot of late ’70s – early ’80s electronic music lately, mostly European stuff but not exclusively. There’s a quality to this music that I’m very fond of, a particular sort of richness. The sounds are very basic, yet there’s a sense throughout that these are sounds that haven’t been made before, and everything you’re hearing is an all-new discovery for the musician. There’s no codified sense of what the music “should” be yet, and the excitement of discovering these new sounds with the listener translates into warmth and texture which transcends the cliché many (but not all) of these compositions tend to fall into. There’s a sequence in the final pages of Prophet: Earth War, the concluding storyline of the now long running space opera series, in which we are presented a series of panels depicting, out of sequence, events in the distant and near past and future beyond the scope of the narrative, finally landing on an image of a starscape captioned with the locations of various fantastic planets and celestial phenomena both familiar and unknown to the reader.

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TEST SPIN: J. Cole — 4 Your Eyez Only

In all honesty, I feel let down by Eyez. As a J Cole fan since 2009’s The Warm Up, I cannot say that Eyez stacks up to his previous efforts. Eyez has a lot going for it. The instrumentation is lush; from the strings to the trumpets one cannot fault the production quality. From the bold trap hit “Immortal” to the minimalist masterpiece on the title track to the gentle vocal-driven melodies seen on She Mine Pt.1 & 2, Eyez is both an instrumental and melodic success.

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TEST SPIN: Childish Gambino — Awaken, My Love!

This isn’t what we expected. Maybe if you attended Donald Glover’s PHAROS concert, or if you took him seriously when he said that this project would be completely different, you weren’t caught off guard. Though, for most of the casual listeners, the switch from hip-hop to soul/funk/R&B is an unprecedented move. Being that Paper Boi, a central character on Glover’s his hit television show, Atlanta, produced rap music, it seemed that Glover himself would continue on this path. Nevertheless, the decision to switch from his original genre didn’t result in a flop; rather, “Awaken, My Love!” is a masterful collection of Childish Gambino’s premier work.

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Confirming the Excellence of Confirmation

Confirmation is a timely exploration of gender, race and power, based on the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (Wendell Pierce). However,the movie is not really about Thomas — it follows Anita Hill (Kerry Washington), who shares her experiences as his advisor and assistant, and was subjected to sexual harassment by him. A historical drama at the genre’s best, Confirmation presents the proceedings mostly factually, although leaning to the side of Anita Hill. The bias doesn’t seem to get in the way of fact, and allows an important story to be told. Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas share many characteristics.

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GOULDTHORPE | What’s In a Teaser?

In the strong professional and career-centric atmosphere here at Cornell University, one piece of wisdom has become common knowledge: first impressions matter. Anyone who’s walked into career services, trained for interviews or opened a self-help book on the topic can tell you that. First impressions are important for impressing those internship recruiters, and also for winning over audiences.  Hundreds of films come out every year; every single one has to sell itself to us.  Their first impressions matter so very much, and they usually come in the form of teaser trailers.

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TEST SPIN: Various Artists — The Hamilton Mixtpe

Hamilton… a mere mention of its name opens a bevy of conversation. But really, what more can be said about ten-dollar founding father, that has not already been said? Lin Manuel-Miranda’s Broadway behemoth already has a Grammy Award-Winning soundtrack that reached #1 on the Rap Albums chart (apparently the first cast album to ever do so), and its shows have been consistently sold out, with some re-sale tickets going upwards of $2,000. Yet Miranda’s involvement with recent films like Star Wars The Force Awakens and Moana, seemed to signal his departure from the musical.

A still from Right Now, Wrong Then, former arts editor Zach Zahos '15 pick for movie of the year.

COURTESY OF GRASSHOPPER FILMS

The Sun’s Alumni Top Ten Roundups

Who knew that alums of The Sun’s Arts section keep on listening to music and watching movies after they graduate? With our Top 10 songs, Top 10 films, and Top 50 albums of the year released just this past week, we thought that it would be interesting to see how some of our elder leaders — the veritable forgotten gems of Sun Arts — were thinking about the question, “What was the best of the year?” In no particular order, here are some of the thoughts Sun Alums have been having about the art of 2016. Zach Zahos ’15

Filing a Top 10 full of limited release art films, most of them globally sourced, does not content me like it used to. That Sully is, in my view, the only great film to open in a multiplex this year signals terribly esoteric taste or something awry that is much bigger than me.