THE BEST OF 1996

AND THE WORST WE SAW THE MOVIES. WE READ THE BOOKS. WE WATCHED THE TV SHOWS, LISTENED TO THE CDS AND SURFED THE NET. AND NOW THE ENVELOPE, PLEASE...

One's knee-jerk tendency at year's end is to look back and decry the 12 months at hand as the most dismal, most indicative of civilization's downward arc since, well, the 12 months before this. 1996, with enough depressing cultural offerings to warm a pessimist's heart, may not change a Scrooge's mind on this score. Perhaps 1996 will even be remembered as the year of the somewhat desperate exclamation point: That Thing You Do! Suddenly Susan! Lamar!

Yet in 1996 there was a lot to reward a scrappy faith in human persistence. Amid a flotilla of alien invasions, The English Patient brought...

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