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by Dan Hudak

As usual, you will not need your brain for most of the 2017 summer movie season.  

Assembling this list is an annual exercise in familiarity, as sequels, franchise properties and R-rated comedies are clearly en vogue with moviegoers. Originality is only welcome in bits and pieces. This lighthearted look at what’s to come from May through July begins with the current Gods of the Box Office, Marvel Studios, it ends with, of all people, Al Gore.

May 5
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”
Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) seeks his father with the help of the Guardians and an awesome soundtrack in this sequel to the breakout 2014 hit. Director James Gunn said there are five post credit scenes, which seems excessive, but if it’s half as fun as the original, we won’t be able to get enough.  

May 12
“King Arthur: Legend of the Sword”
On one hand it’s another “King Arthur” movie. On another hand it’s a Guy Ritchie flick, and if he can breathe life into “Sherlock Holmes,” imagine what he could do with the folklore here.

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by Dan Hudak

La La Land wins six, but it's this year's indie darling Moonlight that takes Best Picture.

The first 12 awards went to different movies, then it became the La La Land and Moonlight show in the second half of the evening, culminating in the most embarrassing event in the history of the Academy Awards. To explain: Best Picture presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were given the wrong envelope and announced La La Land as the winner, causing the "La La" team to come on stage. Moments later, producers ran out on stage with the correct envelope and it was announced that Moonlight actually won Best Picture. Unbelievable.

As for the rest of the evening, the love was spread around quite democratically, with Manchester By The Sea and Hacksaw Ridge winning two apiece, and no other movie winning more than one. Host Jimmy Kimmel had some hits and misses, but overall may have been too inconsistent to be invited back next year. Here are my thoughts as the show went on. A complete list of winners is at the bottom.

8:30 p.m. (ET) - Such a cool and smart way to start with Justin Timberlake singing "Can't Stop the Feeling!" from Trolls. Great, positive energy, and one of the best openings to an Oscar ceremony that I can remember.

8:36 - A bit surprised host Jimmy Kimmel would go political, but he has a nice message: Have a conversation with someone you disagree with, and listen. Still, have to wonder if people are turning the show off because they don't want to hear Hollywood go political. But let's remember: This type of humor is what he does on his late night show, so it's certainly not out of character.

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by Dan Hudak

"La La Land" looks to rule the night, but is there an upset in the making? 

There’s no #Oscarssowhite controversy at this year’s Academy Awards, but there is plenty to talk about. Will “La La Land” walk away with a record number of Oscars?* Will Denzel Washington win his third, and Meryl Streep her fourth? Will Matt Damon’s feud with host Jimmy Kimmel rear its ugly (and hilarious) head? This column focuses on the “big six” categories, but those in Oscar pools can expect “Zootopia” to win Animated Feature, “O.J. Made In America” to take Documentary Feature, “The Jungle Book” to win Visual Effects and “The Salesman” to take Foreign Language, in part because its Iranian director (Asghar Farhadi) will not be there, and it’s become a trend to speak out against the government at this year’s award shows.

For Best Picture, the result is a runaway. “La La Land” tied a record held by “All About Eve” (1950) and “Titanic” (1997) with 14 nominations, and most pundits have it winning anywhere between 8-10 total Oscars, including the big one. “La La Land” won the BAFTA (British Oscar), Producer’s Guild (PGA) and Director’s Guild (DGA) awards, all of which are notable precursors to Oscar glory. It’s also a technically impressive, beautiful film that’s about struggling artistry, which the Academy has repeatedly embraced (hence the recent Best Picture wins for “The Artist” and “Birdman”). Anything other than a “La La” victory will be a tremendous upset; if it happens (and it won’t), it’ll be either “Hidden Figures,” “Manchester By The Sea” or “Moonlight.” Nominees “Hacksaw Ridge,” “Hell Or High Water,” “Fences,” “Lion,” and “Arrival” are all good movies, but not strong contenders. Will win: “La La Land.” Should win: “La La Land,” as it was my number one movie of 2016.

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by Dan Hudak

The Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA), of which film critic Dan Hudak is a member, has named ‘Moonlight’ the Best Film of 2016.

Writer/director Barry Jenkins’ poetic depiction of a gay black man as a child, teenager and adult earned multiple awards, including Best Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali, Best Ensemble, Best Adapted Screenplay and a tie for Best Director with Damien Chazelle of ‘La La Land.’ ‘Moonlight’ was also the runner-up in the categories for Best Supporting Actress (for Naomie Harris), Best Cinematography and the Wyatt Award for the Spirit of the South. [Complete list of winners at end of story.]

“At a time when expensive, heavily-marketed ‘popcorn movies’ dominate the cultural conversation about cinema, the ability of a small, quiet and personal film like ‘Moonlight’ to break through can give film fans hope for the future,” says SEFCA president Curt Holman.

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