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BEST PICTURE ADAPTATIONS

New York Times, Sunday, May 29, 2016

Author:
Kevin G. Der
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
403/12/200710/13/20182
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
122124118
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.65865
Kevin G. Der

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 82 Missing: {JZ} This is puzzle # 36 for Mr. Der. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Kevin G. Der notes:
This puzzle might be the most straightforward Sunday theme I've had in the Times, but hopefully it's no less enjoyable. I love movies, so it was a lot of fun to go through all of the Oscar ... read more

This puzzle might be the most straightforward Sunday theme I've had in the Times, but hopefully it's no less enjoyable. I love movies, so it was a lot of fun to go through all of the Oscar Best Picture winners and see which ones were one letter away from odd, funny phrases.

One choice during construction was to add the two extra 10-letter entries right alongside longer counterparts; this made the grid a bit less wide open, but with a theme like this, I figured it was worth it so that more solvers would find their favorites Oscar movies in the grid. I'm hoping this puzzle brings people delight as they enjoy their long weekend.

Jeff Chen notes:
Fun plays on Oscar-winning movies, changing a single letter to give kooky results. SILENCE OF THE IAMBS was laugh-out loud funny due to its absurdity, and the rest were generally pretty ... read more

Fun plays on Oscar-winning movies, changing a single letter to give kooky results. SILENCE OF THE IAMBS was laugh-out loud funny due to its absurdity, and the rest were generally pretty humorous. Amusing to think of Jabba the Hut as THE VAST EMPEROR.

Watch your carbs, kid

It felt inelegant to have some THEs included and some not, but I imagine it was necessary for crossword symmetry. A shame.

Given Kevin's history of multi-layered themes, I was so sure something was going to be spelled by the changed letters. Or the original letters? After all, there would be some flexibility given that DEER HUNTER could be changed to PEER, SEER, DEAR, DEED, even PUNTER, HINTER. Alas, BIVUGFKGH (new letters) DLLAENDTF (original letters) don't spell anything. Ah well; fun to think of what might have been.

Kevin does really well with his bonus fill — COOKIE TIN, FLAGPOLES, RAVE REVIEW, RAN LIKE MAD, MONGOLIA — useful to keep up the interest of the non-movie fans out there. Even GAS MAIN, TRIPPY, STASIS added to the quality of my solve.

A few blips in short fill are to be expected in any 140-word Sunday puzzle. Kevin mostly keeps his gluey bits to the ignorable kind, with a bit of BEL, ENE, TRAC, OEO. The one place I thought was pretty crunchy was the AIT/ARHAT region in the upper right. Not surprising since Kevin chose to stack BEER HUNTER and SILENCE OF THE IAMBS, forcing a ton of letter pairs to work with. Perhaps ARHAT should be in solvers' general knowledge, since it's an important concept in Buddhism? But this is the one spot where it feels like the solver isn't 100% set up to ultimately win.

It would have been mind-blowing to get an extra layer into this puzzle, the nine special letters somehow spelling out … something. Too bad ADAPTATION is 10 letters, not nine! But it would have been nearly impossible to get a sequence like this worked in, given the rules of crossword symmetry and the difficulty of packing in so many themers.

As it was, I appreciated Kevin's efforts to shoehorn in a ton of fun movie "adaptations." Much more straightforward than I expect from Kevin, but still an enjoyable solve.

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D
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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0529 ( 24,309 )
Across
1
2013 Best Picture nominee in which a main character isn't human : HER
4
Airplane part : CABIN
9
"Hairspray" mom usually played by a man : EDNA
13
Leg presses work them : QUADS
18
60 minuti : ORA
19
Successors to Cutlasses : ALEROS
21
Best Picture adaptation about ... a search for the perfect brew, with "The"? : BEERHUNTER
23
Disney Channel's "___ and Maddie" : LIV
24
... inaudible metrical poetry, with "The"? : SILENCEOFTHEIAMBS
26
Northeast Corridor train : ACELA
28
Like groaners : CORNY
29
River islet : AIT
30
1988 chart-topping country album : REBA
32
Game for bankers? : POOL
33
Psychedelic : TRIPPY
37
... a fat Eastern monarch? : THEVASTEMPEROR
43
One in a no-blinking contest : STARER
45
Second draft : REVISION
46
Neighbor : ABUT
48
Extended rental? : LIMO
49
Sea urchin, at a sushi bar : UNI
50
... fools accompanying a pack of wild animals? : DUNCESWITHWOLVES
56
King's handful : SCEPTER
59
Chance occurrence, old-style : HAP
60
Bad sound in a changing room : RIP
61
Vegas-to-Denver dir. : ENE
62
Part of a city network : SEWER
63
"Relax" : EASY
64
Reusable part of a common thank-you gift : COOKIETIN
67
... a reed and percussion duet? : GONGWITHTHEWIND
71
Group standing at the U.N. : FLAGPOLES
74
Treat with a "Golden" variety : OREO
75
They rank below marquises : EARLS
79
Words before and after "what" : IAM
80
O.T. book before Jeremiah : ISA
81
Chorus line? : LAS
82
Obstacle in road repairs, maybe : GASMAIN
84
... an éclair or crème brûlée, with "The"? : FRENCHCONFECTION
90
Previously : NEE
91
Spork part : TINE
92
Daughter in E. M. Forster's "Howards End" : EVIE
93
Neighbor of Irkutsk on a Risk board : MONGOLIA
96
Badger : HARASS
99
... gorgeous fur? : ABEAUTIFULMINK
103
Shred : TATTER
105
Lit ___ : CRIT
106
Safari sight? : LINK
107
Singer DiFranco : ANI
108
Like a portrait that seems to be watching you : EERIE
110
Winnower : SIEVE
113
... cooties from hugs and kisses? : GERMSOFENDEARMENT
121
Blender setting : MIX
122
... a salon woman I go to? : MYHAIRLADY
123
Tush : HEINIE
124
Set of anecdotes : ANA
125
A while, in hyperbole : AEONS
126
Olympian with a bow : EROS
127
Jet similar to a 747 : DCTEN
128
Benedictine title : DOM
Down
1
Chihuahua greeting : HOLA
2
Country singer Church : ERIC
3
* * * * : RAVEREVIEW
4
Honeydew cousins : CASABAS
5
U.S. women's soccer star Krieger : ALI
6
Volume measure : BEL
7
Cause of boiling over : IRE
8
Sarge, e.g. : NONCOM
9
Jet : EBON
10
Stand up to : DEFY
11
Bit of safari equipment : NET
12
Enlightened Buddhist : ARHAT
13
"Enough is enough!" : QUITIT
14
"___ voce poco fa" (Rossini aria) : UNA
15
PIN point : ATM
16
One having a ball? : DEB
17
G.R.E. takers: Abbr. : SRS
20
Ice cream order : SCOOP
22
Juniors, maybe : HEIRS
25
Writer ___ Stanley Gardner : ERLE
27
1880s-'90s veep ___ P. Morton : LEVI
31
Step ___ : ASIDE
32
Half of a Vegas show duo : PENN
34
Shroud : PALL
35
___ Drive (street where Harry Potter grew up) : PRIVET
36
Dweller along the Mandeb Strait : YEMENI
37
Bridge support : TRUSS
38
"As such ..." : HENCE
39
College campus offering : TOUR
40
Like carpaccio or crudités : RAW
41
Geisha's accessory : OBI
42
Metaphorical low point : RUT
44
Physicist Nathan who postulated wormholes : ROSEN
47
Attempt at a dunk tank : THROW
51
Spiced teas : CHAIS
52
The White House's ___ Room : EAST
53
Peeping Tom's spot : SPYHOLE
54
Modern encyclopedia platform : WIKI
55
Muses : OPINES
57
Simon of the "Mission: Impossible" films : PEGG
58
It circles the globe : TROPIC
63
Merino mother : EWE
64
Stethoscope's place : CHEST
65
War on Poverty agcy. : OEO
66
Main ingredient in queso relleno : EDAM
68
Bite : NOSH
69
Like candied apples : GLACE
70
Gillette razor name : TRAC
71
Liquor purchase : FIFTH
72
Ring around the collar? : LARIAT
73
Chief Theban god : AMENRA
76
Hightailed it : RANLIKEMAD
77
Peaceful protest : LIEIN
78
Apt anagram of SNAKE : SNEAK
82
Slip : GOOF
83
Quash : ANNUL
85
Peachy : NEAT
86
Things zygotes come from : OVA
87
Penpoint : NIB
88
Commission, e.g. : FEE
89
"You're stuck with me" : IMIT
94
What stars do : GLISTEN
95
Hilton alternative : OMNI
97
Equilibrium : STASIS
98
Sancho Panza, e.g. : SENOR
100
About 3/4 of a football field : ACRE
101
___ Heep (Dickens villain) : URIAH
102
Like some sponsorship packages : TIERED
104
One taking a long shot? : RIFLE
108
Prefix with spore : ENDO
109
"Slow Churned" brand : EDYS
111
Antipasto pairing : VINO
112
Reason for a class struggle? : EXAM
113
TV inits. since 1975 : GMA
114
Photographer's asset : EYE
115
Certain fraternity chapter : RHO
116
"Wowie!" : MAN
117
Musician's asset : EAR
118
Lapel attachment : MIC
119
Suffix with subsist : ENT
120
Never, in Nikolaus : NIE

Answer summary: 13 unique to this puzzle.

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