Snubs and Surprises: A Breakdown of the Oscar Nominations

Last year I thought I had set the seer bar too high when I correctly prognosticated 29 of the 33 Oscar nominees in all the acting categories as well as director and best picture.

I stand corrected.

Perfection reigned in four of the categories—best supporting actress, lead actor, director and best picture—and in sum I correctly predicted an astounding 31 of the 34 nominees for a robust 91 percent success rate. And if you take into account my ‘sleeper’ and ‘dark horse’ selections in the lead actress category I missed just one of the 34 nominees.

Since best picture is Oscar’s crown jewel, I of course also consider it the most important. After the Academy changed its voting procedures a few years ago, an additional challenge is to not only name the premier films but also the exact number that made the cut.

I did both.

But I’m most pleased about foreseeing the five auteurs so honored. Among such luminaries in the mix were Clint Eastwood and Martin Scorsese as well as the helmers of fellow best picture nominees Fences (Denzel Washington), Hidden Figures (Theodore Melfi), Hell or High Water (David Mackenzie) and Lion (Garth Davis). Yet I chose to name the talented and controversial Mel Gibson for Hacksaw Ridge over the beloved Washington and Scorsese.

The two categories where I failed to run the table were best supporting actor and lead actress. In my penultimate draft, I had my sleeper selection as Michael Shannon and my dark horse as his Nocturnal Animals castmate Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Considering it a coin flip between the two fantastic performances I reluctantly decided to hedge my proverbial bet by upgrading Taylor-Johnson to my sleeper and inserting Hell or High Water’s Ben Foster as my dark horse. Shannon was a worthy addition to the nominees but I maintain Hugh Grant was the heart of Florence Foster Jenkins and much more deserving than a certain someone.

Speaking of whom . . . Meryl Streep’s inclusion among the lead actress nominees is a travesty. Amy Adams in Arrival was a revelation. She is the biggest snub in an acting category since David Oyelowo was robbed two years ago for his spot-on portrayal of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma.

Coincidentally that year also saw Streep take a worthy supporting actress nod away from either Rene Russo (Nightcrawler), Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year), Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer), Imelda Staunton (Pride) or Emily Blunt (far better in the same musical, Into the Woods).

As for the other actress nominated, Loving’s Ruth Negga, I haven’t an unkind word to say. I only thought the Academy would recognize four-time nominee Annette Bening—best supporting actress nod for The Grifters in 1991 and best actress nominee for American Beauty (2000), Being Julia (2005) and The Kids Are All Right (2011)—for her remarkable turn in 20th Century Women.

In more good news my eight other predicted winners in categories ranging from best animated feature to best cinematography (and including documentary feature, foreign film, original score and song, and screenplays, original and adapted), all were nominated.

Combined with my favorite movie of the year, La La Land, receiving a record-tying 14 nominations (All About Eve, Titanic) I couldn’t be more pleased with how the 89th Academy Awards are shaping up!

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Nick’s Oscar Picks

I love this time of year! Below—made by myself alone, sans the assistance of any web trolling or cheat sheets—please find my uncannily accurate 14th annual Academy Award predictions.

And please check back later this week for the Oscar snubs and surprises and my favorite annual post, This Year in Movies, where I opine on such grandiloquent life-changing matters as the oft-confusing ‘Best Movie That Made the Most Amount of Money’ and ‘Worst Movie That Made the Least Amount of Money’ and my sagacious naming of the next ‘it’ actress, actor, and director. I also award the ‘Movie Quote of the Year’ and reveal the five worst and 11 best films of 2016. A can’t miss!

An apéritif:

Animated: Zootopia
Cinematography: La La Land
Documentary: O.J.: Made in America
Foreign: Toni Erdmann
Original Score: La La Land
Original Song: ‘City of Stars’, La La Land
Screenplay (original): La La Land
Screenplay (adapted): Arrival

And now, without further ado, the nominees are . . . :

Supporting Actress:

Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Viola Davis, Fences

Sleeper: Janelle Monáe, Moonlight
Dark Horse: Greta Gerwig, 20th Century Women

Supporting Actor:

Dev Patel, Lion
Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Sleeper: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nocturnal Animals
Dark Horse: Ben Foster, Hell or High Water

Lead Actress:

Amy Adams, Arrival
Annette Bening, 20th Century Women
Emma Stone, La La Land
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Natalie Portman, Jackie

Sleeper: Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins
Dark Horse: Ruth Negga, Loving

Lead Actor:

Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Denzel Washington, Fences
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic

Sleeper: Tom Hanks, Sully
Dark Horse: Joel Edgerton, Loving

Best Director:

Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Damian Chazelle, La La Land
Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge

Sleeper: Martin Scorsese, Silence
Dark Horse: Garth Davis, Lion

Best Picture:

Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea

And the Oscar goes to . . .

Supporting Actress: Viola Davis
Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali
Lead Actress: Natalie Portman
Lead Actor: Denzel Washington
Director: Damian Chazelle
Picture: La La Land

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Pendulum Swung

Worst to first and first to worst. The Boston Red Sox are rarely a middle-of-the-road team. And in 2016 they will be back on top, hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy as world champs. Buoyed by the additions of ace David Price and fireballer Craig Kimbrel—not to mention one of the fastest and most defensively skilled outfields in recent history—Boston is vastly improved in all areas of the game, most crucially the health of skipper John Farrell.

The Red Sox will best the Tigers in six games in the American League Championship Series before downing the Washington Nationals in seven scintillating World Series games. Capping his historic career with his fourth World Series ring, David Ortiz will earn his second consecutive MVP of the Fall Classic, retiring in quintessentially Big Papi fashion.

Want to know how your favorite squad will fare? Check out my team-by-team predictions and get the first glimpse of an exhilarating 2016 postseason, including a playoff game for the American League Central crown, the Tigers beating the Royals in two different playoff formats and the precise game prognostications of all the playoff series.

As for my Bold Prediction of the Year: No team will win more than 95 games but nine teams will lose at least 90, including an unprecedented three teams—in reverse order of futility: Cincinnati (100), Colorado (103), Philadelphia (105)—failing to prevail over 100 times. The Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres will avoid suffering such an ignominious fate by a lone game, each posting identical 63-99 records.

(Last year’s BPOTY: ‘Eight teams will lose at least 90 games and one [the Arizona Diamondbacks] will lose 100.’ Oh so close: Seven squads actually lost at least 90 games but none lost 100, though the Philadelphia Phillies did have 99 . . .)

And the award(s) goes to . . .

NL MVP: Bryce Harper, RF, Washington Nationals
AL MVP: Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros

NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
AL Cy Young: David Price, Boston Red Sox

NL Rookie of the Year: Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers
AL Rookie of the Year: Byron Buxton, CF, Minnesota Twins

NL Comeback Player of the Year: Zack Wheeler, SP, New York Mets
AL Comeback Player of the Year: Yu Darvish, SP, Texas Rangers

NL Manager of the Year: Dusty Baker, Washington Nationals
AL Manager of the Year: John Farrell, Boston Red Sox

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Postmortem: The Taco Stand

Four teams. Four drafts rated best in the league. Four missed playoffs. If that doesn’t properly sum up the agony of fantasy football then words simply won’t due.

Not only did I have the best draft but in free agency I picked up such luminaries as the Carolina and Denver defense early in the season—they finished third and fourth in fantasy scoring—DeAngelo Williams (to replace a fallen Le’Veon Bell) and Ben Roethlisberger to back up Tom Brady. All of this helped me end the regular season second in points.

But outside of the top six and shut out from the postseason The Taco Stand finished.

Editor’s Note: In case you missed my first three postmortems of the 2015 fantasy football campaign, Brc, Sterling Sharpe and Fuzzy Dunlop are set to be read. All previous years’ autopsies are also online, as are all 17 of this season’s weekly wraps.

The 411:

Team Name: The Taco Stand
Record: 6-7 (7 of 12)
Points: 1,938.58 (2 of 12)Standings

History: Fourth season
Championships: One (2012)
(Other) Top 3 Finishes: Third in 2014 and 2013
Previous Postmortems:

The epitome of an up-and-down season:Schedule












Draft Grade: A (tops in the league—again!)












Best Pick: Tom Brady (Started all 16 games for me and produced a ridiculous 451.70 fantasy points, an average of 28.23 per week. Oh and I got him in the sixth round!)
Best Value: Tyler Eifert (Eleventh round selection that tallied 52 receptions for 615 yards and 13 scores, all but four of those catches, 51 of those yards and a single touchdown with him in my starting lineup. His 194.50 total points are astounding for such a low pick.)


Worst Pick: Melvin Gordon III (only started four games for me, producing a paltry 182 yards rushing and a mere 76 receiving on 12 catches. And as has been well-documented, he failed to a score a touchdown the entire season and he lost two fumbles while donning The Taco Stand jersey.)

Worst Value: C.J. Spiller (him again! He only played one game for me, in which he accumulated a grand total of 16 yards with just a single catch. Hideous for a seventh round pick in a PPR league.)

I consummated 23 transactions throughout the year:Transactions Transactions (Redux)

Smartest Move: I was very successful in my free agent and waiver additions—nabbing the Broncos defense in mid-September and Williams off waivers to replace Bell after he went down injured—but I’d say my smartest move was my very first: scooping up the Panthers D before they first stepped foot on the field. They finished fourth in fantasy points, just behind Denver, averaging 11.44 points per fantasy contest.

Dumbest Move: Nary a regret.

Here’s how everyone performed when they suited up for The Taco Stand:

Team LogTeam Log (Redux)Unsung Hero: Though I predicted as much—hence me using a fifth round pick on him—Oakland Raiders rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper was sublime. He played in all 16 games, catching 72 passes for 1,070 yards and six touchdowns, losing only one fumble in the process.

His 228.7 fantasy points (14.29 per) were great production for his draft slot.

Entry Fee: $50 (USD)

Turning Point: Turning Point

From the Week 11 archives:

‘(Heartbreaking) Team of the Week: The Taco Stand. Everything was set up perfectly for a huge win and likely playoff berth. Down 131.64-86 at the kickoff of Monday Night Football, I was predicted to win handily: 143.30-131.64. But not in cold and rainy Foxborough with no one (not the Patriots, Bills or the officials) on their game. It was not to be. Tom Brady underperformed by 12.42 points, Brandon LaFell 3.45, and LeGarrette Blount 7.65. The devastating loss drops me down to seventh place, one spot out of the postseason.’

That one night summed up The Taco Stand’s entire season.

Tale of the Championship Tape or (How My Draft Compared to the Eventual Winner):

Capture Draft Results (Winner)









                                                                                      Chandler received a B and besides doing well drafting the child abusing Peterson, probably won the league by his fifth (Brandon Marshall), eleventh (Carson Palmer) and thirteenth (Jordan Reed) round selections. Good on him.

Lesson Learned: Had the best draft, was awesome in free agency (especially once I got the top waiver priority—I was last to begin the season—and saved it to prevent against a cataclysmic injury, which just so happened to Le’Veon Bell. Getting DeAngelo Williams to replace him was critical); and finished with the second most points. Sometimes life ain’t fair. It rarely is in fantasy football.


Opening Day is nigh! For everything you want to know leading up to the baseball season—not to mention 140-character reviews on the best movies currently in the theatre and more fantasy football postmortems—please follow me on Twitter.

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Postmortem: Brc

In my nearly two decades playing fantasy football, I have never had a team suffer so many bad breaks. My coveted first round pick, Le’Veon Bell, was lost for the season after not even playing six whole games. Ditto for Arian Foster.

This fact successfully sums up the season: Not one of my top six selections—Bell, Matt Forte, Ben Roethlisberger, Julian Edelman, Foster or Sammy Watkins—played in every game and all were out for multiple contests.

Editor’s Note: In case you missed my first two postmortems of the 2015 fantasy football campaign, both Sterling Sharpe and Fuzzy Dunlop are set to be read. All past autopsies are also online, as are all 17 of this season’s weekly wraps.

The 411:

Team Name: Brc
Record: 5-9 (10 of 12)
Points: 1,880 (9 of 12)Standings

History: Eleventh season
Championships: One (2004)
(Other) Top 3 Finishes: Second (2007)
Previous Year Results: Fourth (of 12) in 2008, fifth in 2011, 2010, and 2009, sixth in 2014, seventh in 2013 and tenth in 2012 and 2006
Previous Postmortems: 2013All-Time

And to think the season started off so promising . . . :












Draft Grade: B+ (tops in the league!)

Draft Results












Best Pick: Le’Veon Bell (Crushed he didn’t make it through the season but I would still choose him number one overall in this league next year.)
Best Value: Tyler Lockett (210 points for a ninth round pick)Stats

Worst Pick:
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (played just one game for me, catching two balls for 29 yards for a whopping four fantasy points! Oy.)
Worst Value: Brandon LaFell (82 fantasy points in 11 games played for a 10th round selection)

Just 27 adds/drops this season:

Transactions (Redux)

Transactions (Reprise)

Smartest Move: Picking Washington (insert racist mascot here) wide receiver DeSean Jackson up as a free agent on Oct. 28. In eight games he put up 104 fantasy points, an average of 13 per game, on 30 catches for 528 yards, four touchdowns and one lost fumble. (Derrick Carr was also a sage signing.)

Dumbest Move: Drafting too many fragile players? Nah. Just bad luck that so many of my top picks went down. I loved my draft then and I love it now.

Here’s how everyone performed when they suited up for Brc:Team Log
Team Log (Redux)

Unsung Hero(s): Both Carr and Joe Flacco filled in very admirably when Roethlisberger was sidelined with myriad injuries.

Entry Fee: $33 (USD)

Turning Point: Turning Point

Week 6 was a killer. I entered the matchup feeling pretty good with a 3-2 mark and favored by 32 points. I ended the weekend with a four point defeat and no Arian Foster—from both of which I never recovered. After the collapse I lost four straight games, making a postseason visit highly unlikely.

Tale of the Championship Tape or (How My Draft Compared to the Eventual Winner):

Draft ResultsDraft Results (Winner)









WellyWorld’s squad—draft grade: B—is a perfect example of a guy (in this case Russell Wilson) getting hot at the right time to carry the entire team. A season well played.

Lesson Learned: My elite players stay healthy and I definitely make the playoffs and am a very tough out. No regrets.


Opening Day is nigh! For everything you want to know leading up to the baseball season—not to mention 140-character reviews on the best movies currently in the theatre and more fantasy football postmortems—please follow me on Twitter: @nicholasjonwood.

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Postmortem: Sterling Sharpe

Sterling Sharpe was doomed by three decisions, the first two made minutes apart and the last 18 days hence.

But first a bit of background.

Including this campaign, Frozen Tundra has been around for 11 years. And this is the first time Sterling Sharpe has failed to make the playoffs. In fact, in the previous decade I had only lost in the first round twice (2010 and 2013) and had racked up one third, four seconds and three championships in all the other years. That is a remarkable seven title game appearances in 10 seasons.

Until now.

The first decision I would quickly come to rue was drafting Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck with the sixth overall selection. The next two off the board? Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Rodgers. (Despite it being a point-per-reception league, it’s not an entirely poor strategy to draft a signal caller with your first pick. Except this season.)

After right the ship by selecting Cincinnati Bengals wideout A.J. Green with my next selection, I made a major reach to secure a coveted combo by choosing Luck’s teammate Andre Johnson with pick number 31.

And yet . . . Yahoo! still graded me out to a B+. What sealed my fate was the trade I made on Sunday 27 September in the American morning:

Worst. Trade. Ever.

The numbers actually favored me, with Bernard not so much a factor as he was a year ago and Jones falling off the fantasy cliff after a torrid start.  Green was excellent all year but despite a big game on the day I traded him did nothing extraordinary with his season.

Obviously Lynch was a major bust for me, but—before going down for the season—Forsett was just beginning to hit his stride and Maclin finished with only 21 fewer fantasy points (200 to 179) than Green.

What was so awful about the deal was that it went against everything I stand for from a fantasy perspective. I didn’t get the best player in the swap and I dealt away a gifted receiver for a plodding running back when I normally start four wideouts—WR, WR, WR, WR/RB—and two pass-catching backs.

Second-guessing myself amid a poor start to the season is the true martyr of this campaign.

Editor’s Note: In case you missed my first postmortem of the 2015 fantasy football campaign, Fuzzy Dunlop is ready to be read. All past autopsies are also online, as are all 17 of this season’s weekly wraps.

Team Name: Sterling Sharpe
Record: 5-9 (10 of 12)
Points: 1,354.23 (9 of 12)Standings

History: Eleventh season
Championships: Three (2012, 2008, 2005)
(Other) Top 3 Finishes: Second (2014, 2009, 2007, 2006) and Third (2011)
Previous Year Results: Fifth in 2013 and 2010
Previous Postmortems: 2013


Two losing streaks of at least four games doesn’t a playoff team make:














I received a B+ for my draft class, tied for second best across the league:

Draft Results











Best Pick: Danny Woodhead (173 fantasy points for a ninth round pick)
Best Value: Mason Crosby (121 for a 15th rounder) 


Worst Pick: Andre Johnson (nine paltry fantasy points in the measly four games he played for me. In sum he only totaled 84 the entire season. Ridiculous production—no, not in a good way—for a third round pick)
Worst Value: C.J. Spiller (chose him fifth and he never played for me)

My second trade of the season was much smarter than the first:

Much Better!Here are my other 30 transactions through the season:



Transactions (Redux)Transactions (Reprise)Smartest Move: Besides trading for Jordan Reed to finally stabilize my tight end position? Probably picking Kansas City Chiefs running back Charcandrick West off waivers after Jamaal Charles went down for the season. Obvious at the time, sure, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t the right move, especially considering these backups only rarely produce at rates even close to their predecessors.

Dumbest Move: Dropping Seattle Seahawks running back Thomas Rawls only three days after I picked him up as Marshawn Lynch insurance. No reason I couldn’t have just held on to him for the rest of the season just in case something happened to the rapidly aging Lynch. Stupid, stupid move.

Here’s how everyone performed when they suited up for Sterling:

Team Log

Team Log (Redux)

Team Log (Reprise)Unsung Hero: Danny Woodhead. Yes: He may win this award for every team on which he played for me. He had that good a season.

Entry Fee: $33 (USD)

Turning Point: Turning Point

Had I kept Rawls and started him for the injured Lynch, I would have won easily, 109.59-95.60, because he rushed 30 times for 209 yards and a touchdown and also caught three passes, including one for a score, good for 29 fantasy points. A victory in Week 11 puts me at 4-7 and right in the thick of the playoff race.

Tale of the Championship Tape or (How My Draft Compared to the Eventual Winner):

Draft ResultsDraft Results (Winner)











Worst Team Ever got a C from Yahoo! but made two integral trades (he also acquired Antonio Brown and Melvin Gordon for my two castoffs—Bernard and Jones—and Arizona Cardinals receiver Michael Floyd) for his second straight title.

Gluttons for punishment can read about what happened to me last year in the last game of the regular season against him. So unlucky I was on that day.

Lesson Learned: Trust myself and my methods. Deviating from the tried and true plan rarely works and is definitely not worth the risk. 


Opening Day is fast approaching! For everything you want to know leading up to the baseball season—not to mention 140-character reviews on the best movies currently in the theatre and more fantasy football postmortems—please follow me on Twitter.

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Postmortem: Fuzzy Dunlop

With Opening Day of the fantasy baseball season just 24 sleeps away, I figured now is the perfect time to put a bittersweet bow on the recently completed fantasy football campaign.

For those of you unfamiliar with my series of postmortems, I’ve found it a key method to look back on a season dispassionately and fairly. Also if I didn’t win the championship, it’s an ideal method to figure out what I need to do better next season to come home with the booty.

In keeper leagues, it also helps me focus more intently on my long-term general manager duties. It also provides a nice compliment to my weekly wraps.

So, without further ado, my first postmortem from the 2015 fantasy football season:

I can’t believe Fuzzy Dunlop (pop culture reference, anyone?) is the first team I’m psychoanalyzing this season. Long one of my favorite leagues—how can you not love a scoring system that rewards you with two points for every reception?—I was determined this was the year I finally finished back on top.

And I had the draft to prove it. Yahoo! grade? A+! I also had the best regular season of any of the 12 teams, finishing with the most points. And yet . . . I somehow was not one of the six teams to make the playoffs. This year’s incarnation of Fuzzy Dunlop is exactly why fantasy football is so damn frustrating!

The particulars:

Team Name: Fuzzy Dunlop
Record: 5-8 (9 of 12)
Points: 2,376 (1 of 12)Standings
History: Eleventh season
Championships: One (2005)
(Other) Top 3 Finishes: Second (2011, 2007, 2006), Third (2012, 2010)
Previous Year Results: Fourth in 2014 and 2008, eleventh in 2013 and 2009
Previous Postmortems: 2013All-Time

Can’t believe I was 2-1 at one point as the whole season just never felt right. Here is how I performed week-by-week:













As alluded to above I received a sterling A+ for my draft class, tied for tops in the league:Draft Results











Best Pick: Julio Jones (503 fantasy points for my first round pick)
Best Value: Danny Woodhead (291 for a seventh)Stats

Worst Pick: DeVante Parker (My 10th round pick never got a start for me and produced only 116 fantasy points)
Worst Value: Randall Cobb (275 for a second)

Surprisingly I consummated no trades and made just 15 moves—all signs I was very happy with the team I drafted:


Smartest Move: Picking Jordan Reed off waivers on October 28. He played nine games for me, catching 52 balls for 602 yards and eight touchdowns. Minus two for a lost fumble, he produced a remarkable 210 points for Fuzzy Dunlop, a ridiculous average of 23.33 per game.

Dumbest Move: Probably got rid of Eagles running back Darren Sproles a bit too early, cutting ties with him on October 14. Thing was I really really wanted Brandon LaFell of the Patriots. Don’t think it cost me a playoff spot as my two starting running backs—the drafted T.J. Yeldon and the acquired-after-Jamaal-Charles-got-hurt Charcandrick West—were very solid. But if I had to choose one error in management that would be it.

Here’s how everyone performed when they suited up for Fuzzy:Team Log

Unsung Hero: Danny Woodhead. Perfect player for a two point per reception league that gives one point for just 10 yards receiving but also one for every 20 yards rushing.

Entry Fee: $50 (USD)

Turning Point: Week 10. From the This Week in Fantasy Football archive:

‘(Heartbreaking) Team of the Week: Fuzzy Dunlop. My opponent played Ben Roethlisberger—who, mind you, didn’t even start in his own real game—and thanks to an early injury to the real Steelers starter busts lose for 30 fantasy points—exactly 30 more than projected. His final margin of fantasy victory? Three points. I really can’t make this shit up.’Turning Point

Tale of the Championship Tape or (How My Draft Compared to the Eventual Winner):

Draft ResultsDraft Results (Winner)











                            Lesson Learned: I honestly can’t take too much away from a season where my draft grade was so lauded and I finished with the most points in a 12-team league. An extremely disappointing campaign to be sure.


Opening Day is fast approaching! For everything you want to know leading up to the baseball season—not to mention 140-character reviews on the best movies currently in the theatre and more fantasy football postmortems—please follow me on Twitter: @nicholasjonwood.

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