Courtesy of ABC

COLLINS | The Oscars Matter. They May Suck, but They Matter

With the Oscars approaching, I’ve committed myself to watch every Best Picture nominee. I’ve already watched six. I’ll happily make it through the next two on my list — The Shape of Water and Phantom Thread — and force myself through The Post. No knock on Steven Spielberg and his cast. I just tend to have a hard time getting into historical films.

Many viewers seem to regard awards shows with something between amusement and derision, and with good reason.

Dug and Hognob in Early Man

GOULDTHORPE | Eating My Words: Early Man vs. Peter Rabbit

A couple weeks ago, I delivered an early rebuke of Peter Rabbit and talked about the prevalence of Shrek-style humor in modern family movies. I had dreaded Peter Rabbit, and looked forward to Feb 16 — the release of Early Man. Early Man is the work of Aardman Animations, the studio famous for Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run and Shaun the Sheep. Directed by Nick Park, the film centers around Dug (Eddie Redmayne) and his Stone Age tribe of rabbit hunters. They live in a peaceful valley, until one day the evil Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston) takes over the area to strip for metals.

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SWAN | The Collective Anxiety on Little Dark Age

Last week, MGMT released Little Dark Age, the duo’s fourth studio album. Admittedly, I haven’t listened to much of MGMT beyond their hits from last decade like “Kids” or “Electric Feel,” but nevertheless I really enjoyed listening to Little Dark Age. The album appears to have received generally positive reviews, with most critics asserting that Little Dark Age is a welcome return to MGMT’s commercial-pop sound after their foray into a more experimental quality during the early 2010s. Little Dark Age is rather quick to convey a retro vibe, made apparent from the breach by songs like “She Works Out Too Much,” “Little Dark Age,” and “When You Die.” MGMT seems to have pulled from the vernacular of 1980s pop music, with warm, analog synthesizer tracks on essentially every piece of the album. “Little Dark Age” the lead sample from the album which was actually released back in October, contains a machinated drum beat and near monotonic vocal track, both of which bring “Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats to mind.

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COLLINS | A Playlist for Valentine’s Day Destruction

It’s Valentine’s Day and you’re all by your lonesome. What’s your plan? You’re going to cuddle up in your sweatpants with a pint of ice cream and re-watch Bridget Jones’s Diary? Scooch over, I’m taking the wheel. Here’s what going to happen.

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GOULDTHORPE | Peter Rabbit, the Latest Victim of Shrek Humor

Later this week, I will be going to see Sony Animation’s take on Peter Rabbit, the beloved children’s series by Beatrix Potter. What are my expectations? Considering that the promotions are filled with Animal House-style parties, and that our titular hero shoves a carrot up Domhnall Gleeson’s derrière, I’m not particularly looking forward to it. That still looks masterful, though, compared to the upcoming Sherlock Gnomes, which features truly hilarious lines like “‘We need a ship.’ ‘No ship, Sherlock.’” and an old man dancing around in a thong. How did we get here?

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GUEST ROOM | On the Polarizing Nature of XXXTentacion

A new era has dawned in rap music, one fueled by the angst commonly associated with grunge acts such as Nirvana. And the 19-year-old Florida native XXXTentacion, along with the likes of Lil Uzi Vert, finds himself at the forefront of this new culture. What separates these young anti-label artists from rappers of the past is their unwillingness to be forced into taking on the label rapper, making music that at times sounds more like the metal, and simply not giving a damn about being well liked. X, born Jahseh Onfroy rose to prominence with his single “Look at me!,” a club-turnup song based off a distorted Mala sample and a gnarled 808 which has garnered nearly 93 million streams since its release in 2016. Since then there has been no turning back for X, who even landed a set at Rolling Loud this year.

Andy Serkis as Caesar

GUEST ROOM | Oscar for an Ape

As much as I love foisting my movie opinions on others, I don’t envy the jobs of Academy voters. Every year they put forth their best guesses as to what films and actors they feel stood out over the last 365 days and every year somebody somewhere will always feel their favorite piece or person has been snubbed. Unfortunately, those opinions are consistently more boisterous than the silent consent of the masses. That said, I think they’ve done a good job this year… for the most part. Best Actress has Frances McDormand (Three Billboards)?

SWAN | Kendrick Lamar’s Satire

The 60th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony was held on Sunday evening and opened with an appearance by Kendrick Lamar. His performance consisted of a medley with songs like “DNA.” and “XXX.” from Damn. and “King’s Dead” from the Black Panther soundtrack. To accurately describe his performance in words would ultimately futile —  though I will briefly attempt to do it anyway.  I encourage you to check it out.

Boris Nemtsov speaks at a rally in Moscow in 2011. Courtesy of Voice of America.

Vladimir Kara-Murza Is Not Backing Down

Someone is trying to kill Vladimir Kara-Murza. Someone is failing. The Russian journalist and democratic activist, a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin, is soft-spoken but full of life as we sit chatting about politics in the atrium of Gates Hall. Kara-Murza is in town for a screening of his documentary Nemtsov, which tells the story of slain Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, and in an interview with The Sun he explained the story behind the film, and what he hopes to impart on his audience. “Boris was the best of us… so they killed the strongest,” Kara-Murza says when asked about the brazen 2015 assassination of Nemtsov that occured just steps away from the Kremlin.

Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) and Finn (John Boyega) in Star Wars: The Last Jedi

GUEST ROOM | The Last Jedi Reimagined

I got to review The Last Jedi when it came out, along with some other Arts & Entertainment writers. To sum it up, we all pretty much said the same thing: it was a film of highs and lows. The overarching theme of balance the movie sought to explore shone through in its quality: good balanced against bad. But this isn’t a movie review. This is a “rewrite” of sorts, in which I will attempt to suggest a few small tweaks that had the potential to improve a movie.