• Updated

NEW YORK (AP) — Bowing to a backlash that had threatened to engulf an already blunder-plagued Academy Awards, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Friday reversed its decision to present four awards during the commercial breaks of this year's Oscar broadcast.

Even when done well, the romantic comedy is easy to pick on. They’re so earnest and full of clichés and unrealistic fairy tale standards. Intelligent women have been taught that there should be a healthy serving of self-hatred with whatever enjoyment you might glean from a well-done makeover montage. You don’t have to look much further than the phrase “rom-com” (like chick-lit) to know that. The dismissive term seems to have been thrown at the genre to take it and its fans down a few pegs, as if to say, no no, silly girl, that’s not cinema or literature or even art.

In Reginald Rose’s famous television play “12 Angry Men,” the source for an even better known 1957 movie starring Henry Fonda, jurors debating the merits of a murder trial end up far from where they started as their individual perspectives and biases come into play.

“The LEGO Movie” is a hard act to follow. Its world was so fresh and vibrant and unexpected, it’s no wonder that it spawned a number of spinoffs of varying quality. But the big test was always going to be the sequel and whether or not it could recreate the magic of the first. And I’m pleased to report that “The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part “ is pretty darn good, but also you can’t help shake the feeling that it’s just never going to live up to the exciting newness of the first.

In “What Men Want,” Taraji P. Henson gains the ability to hear men’s unspoken thoughts after she (1) accidentally drinks drug-laced tea; (2) dances to 2 Live Crew’s “Hoochie Mama” during a friend’s bachelorette party; (3) is knocked over by an inflatable penis; and (4) is slammed into a nightclub stage.

Creepy children are a mainstay of the horror genre. Going back to “The Bad Seed” and beyond, children have proved capable of unnerving audiences with a combination of precocious dialogue and psychopathic behavior.

Christian music icon Bill Gaither chuckles at a question about continuing to write new songs in a career that stretches some five decades with songs that have become permanent additions to many Christians’ hymnody.

No, “Free Solo” isn’t the latest “Star Wars” installment. Upon reflection, however, fans of that franchise should make sure to see this riveting film, if only to experience action and derring-do at its most high-stakes, awe-inspiring and jaw-droppingly true.

The patrons of a small-town beauty salon share tears of heartache and laughter amid whiffs of hairspray in “Steel Magnolias” and that mix is what director Kelly MacGregor hopes to bring out in the Waco Civic Theatre production that opens on Friday.

Few things seem to escape D.L. Hughley’s sharp eye for comedy and commentary: celebrities and politicians, the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements and their oppositions, the challenges of living while black, an urban childhood where discipline was measured by objects used.

In “The Favourite,” a deliciously diabolical comedy of ill manners and outré palace intrigue, Olivia Colman plays Queen Anne, who in the 18th century ruled Great Britain while suffering through 17 ill-fated pregnancies, severe illness and not un-consequential wars with Spain and France.

The Arthurian legend gets a modern and more youthful spin in “The Kid Who Would Be King ,” a surprisingly delightful film full of action, heart, a crazy-haired Patrick Stewart (as “old” Merlin) and a few genuinely good gags, and it really couldn’t have come at a better time.

Percussionist Robert Dillon admits he and his colleagues have to think carefully about the relationship between programming and packing for a concert tour. The former involves what pieces bring the effect they want, the latter about the instruments needed to achieve that. Marimba? Snare drums? Wooden blocks? Tuned bells?

Jazz pianist Beegie Adair remembers listening to all types of music on the radio while growing up in a small Kentucky town: pop, country, swing, western swing and more. Decades later, she’s finding that same musical openness in her younger audiences, some of whom are hearing with fresh ears the Great American Songbook standards that’s at the heart of her jazz.

Connally Junior High theater arts teacher Kay Bell writes about a group of homeless people who find a home of sorts when they band together in “Born to Win,” but her play debut seems to have already found a home: a sellout Saturday night at the Waco Hippodrome.

The title of “Green Book” derives from a period when African-Americans often traveled at their own risk, especially in the Jim Crow South. Unwelcome in many restaurants, hotels and other public establishments, they even faced death in “sundown” towns, where they were warned to get out before evening, or else.

When the newsroom discussed 2018's top local news stories several weeks ago, the ones involving the arts in my mind didn't quite make the bar for the Top 10, though definitely they were notable for the arts organizations or groups involved.

January means a slow month for many live music venues as fans recover from Christmas season spending and New Year’s Eve partying, but it’s only a sign of a busy, star-studded year to come at the Waco Hippodrome.

If 2018 will be remembered for anything, it will be for well-executed blockbusters: From “Black Panther” and “Crazy Rich Asians” to “Mission: Impossible — Fallout” and “Halloween,” audiences were treated to exceptionally smart, technically proficient, visually rich exercises in action, romance, horror and other genres whose mass appeal usually makes them immune to questions of sophistication and aesthetic taste.