<p>Kenneth Branagh at the UK premiere of &quot;My Week with Marilyn&quot;&nbsp;on Nov. 20 in London.</p>

Kenneth Branagh at the UK premiere of "My Week with Marilyn" on Nov. 20 in London.

Credit: AP Photo/Joel Ryan

Kenneth Branagh on the 'method' of playing Olivier and Marvel movies fueling England's film biz

Has he had his own 'Marilyn' on set?

If anyone deserves the 2011 comeback of the year award it may just be Kenneth Branagh. 

The four-time Oscar nominee burst upon the scene in 1989 with his acclaimed adaptation of "Henry V."  It was a remarkable achievement which he both directed and starred in at the ripe old age of 28.  Branagh became a creative force and incredibly prolific during the early to mid-90's with more Shakespeare adaptations such as "Much Ado About Nothing" and a four-hour "Hamlet," the underrated thriller "Dead Again," cult comedy favorite "Peter's Friends" and the studio misfire "Frankenstein." His career hit a major bumpy patch after his villainous turn in the disappointing "Wild Wild West" and the critical drubbing of his musical version of "Love's Labour's Lost" in 2000.  What followed was almost a decade of supporting roles in films such as "Rabbit-Proof Fence," "Valkyrie" and "Pirate Radio" and little substantial directing work.  I remember speaking to Branagah when "Sleuth" screened at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival and he was humbly grateful star and producer Jude Law offered him the chance to helm a movie people were paying attention to.  It was a far cry from a decade earlier when he was the toast of Hollywood and "Hamlet" was perceived as a best picture nominee (which didn't happen although it did land four nominations).

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<p>Patrick Kennedy, Tom Hiddleston and Toby Kebbell discuss their work on Steven Spielberg's &quot;War Horse.&quot;</p>

Patrick Kennedy, Tom Hiddleston and Toby Kebbell discuss their work on Steven Spielberg's "War Horse."

Credit: Walt Disney Studios

Tom Hiddleston, Emily Watson and Jeremy Irvine reveal 'War Horse' secrets

Who are the 'ghost whisperers' of European film sets?

If you happened to head to the local multiplex on Sunday there's a good chance the movie you ended up seeing was "War Horse."  Before the holiday, Steven Spielberg's 2 hour and 26 minute epic was projected to have a good, but not great debut.  Instead, "War Horse" burst onto the scene with $7.5 million in just 2,600 theaters, almost double what pre-release polling indicated.  And, its per-screen average was barely behind that of "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol" which played in over 1,000 more theaters and had the added benefit of higher IMAX ticket prices.  DreamWorks and Disney kept Monday's estimate much more conservative than its competitors, but a $15 million plus cume over two days is a stellar launch for the Oscar player.

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<p>Yes, we've got opinions of more entertainment options than what's playing at your local multiplex.</p>

Yes, we've got opinions of more entertainment options than what's playing at your local multiplex.

Award Campaign's Best of 2011: TV, Music and Movies

Fassbender, 'Game of Thrones,' '30 Rock,' Adele and...Britney

I already ranked my top 10 films of the year last week, but taking a page from In Contention's own Kris Tapley I've decided to post my own picks in some of the major award season categories. Just for fun, I've also included some of my "best of the year" picks for TV and music as well. Granted, music is the most subjective these days, so if it makes you feel better consider my Top Singles of 2011 a "favorites" list.

And again, thanks to Mr. Tapley for letting me poach his idea.

Comments are included where it was deemed necessary.

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Top Ten of 2011: A year of Los Angeles films and superb style

Top Ten of 2011: A year of Los Angeles films and superb style

Which franchise surprisingly made the list?

Aren't you glad that's over?  Yes, 2011 was clearly one of the more mediocre and likely unmemorable years in cinema in quite awhile.  Sure, there were some amazing films released over the last 12 months, but it was much easier picking the top five pictures on my year end list than the second five.  It was just one of those years.

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<p>The HitFix Team at our now annual Comic-Con Kick-Off party this past July. Can you name us all?</p>

The HitFix Team at our now annual Comic-Con Kick-Off party this past July. Can you name us all?

HitFix is three years old today: What's next?

Thanks to all our fans for your amazing support

10 blogs. 17,843 articles and blog posts published. Over 3,500 videos posted. And, now officially, three years of HitFix.

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<p>Tim&nbsp; Burton examines a stop motion figure for Sparky at the offices of MacKinnon and Saunders.  The firm built over 100 puppets for &quot;Frankenweenie.&quot;</p>

Tim  Burton examines a stop motion figure for Sparky at the offices of MacKinnon and Saunders. The firm built over 100 puppets for "Frankenweenie."

Credit: Walt Disney Studios

Set Visit Sneak: Tim Burton's 'Frankenweenie'

2012 promises to be an eventful year in animation

No best animated feature nominee this year New York Film Critics Circle?  Well, we beg to differ, but something tells us 2012 might suit your peculiar tastes a bit more.  Not only is Pixar returning with "Brave," but LAIKA is back with their first feature since "Coraline," "ParaNorman."  DreamWorks also has "Rise of the Guardians" based on William Joyce's acclaimed "The Guardians of Childhood" novels, Disney Animated Studios has "Wreck-It-Ralph," Aardman returns to stop-motion with ""THe Pirates! Basednd of Misfits" and Universal brings "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax" to life.   One of the most anticipated new animated films, however, has to be Tim Burton's long awaited feature length version of "Frankenweenie."

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<p>Jessica Chastain at the LA&nbsp;premiere for &quot;The Help&quot;&nbsp;earlier this year.</p>

Jessica Chastain at the LA premiere for "The Help" earlier this year.

Credit: AP Photo

Jessica Chastain is home just in time to celebrate 'The Help'

DreamWorks Oscar contender hits SoHo House

2011 has been the year of Ryan Gosling and Jessica Chastain, but the latter hasn't really been around much to enjoy it.  I spoke to "The Help," "Tree of Life," "Coriolanus," "The Debt," "Take Shelter," "Texas Killing Fields" actress Wednesday evening at a relaxed and holiday cocktail party DreamWorks held at SoHo House Los Angeles to celebrate "The Help."

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<p>Kristen Wiig and &quot;Bridesmaids&quot;&nbsp;gets some Oscar love in this new TV spot.</p>

Kristen Wiig and "Bridesmaids" gets some Oscar love in this new TV spot.

Watch: The Oscar race is no laughing matter for 'Bridesmaids' anymore

Universal puts serious money in TV spots for a best picture nod

Do you remember way back in September when "Bridesmaids" star Melissa McCarthy stunned TV fans with her Emmy win in the best actress in a comedy series category?  At the time the scuttlebutt was whether the industry love for McCarthy's breakout role in one of the biggest hits of the summer count translate into a legitimate Oscar campaign for best supporting actress.  Oh, how times have changed.

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<p>Albert Brooks as Bernie Rose in &quot;Drive.&quot;</p>

Albert Brooks as Bernie Rose in "Drive."

Credit: FilmDistrict

Q&A: Albert Brooks talks 'Drive,' awards love, the problem with twitter and Judd Apatow

Was I awake enough to ask coherent questions?

After a long and very busy Golden Globes morning last Tuesday, this pundit collapsed into a well deserved nap.  Being an entertainment writer/journalist/critic/commentator is a fantastic job, but the back to back days you have to get up at 5 AM to hear both SAG and Globe nominations are arguably the toughest of the year.  An hour later, I groggily woke up and stared at the 40 new E-mails that somehow found their way into my inbox.  Just two minutes later the phone rang.  Smartly, I answered the unknown number and heard, "Greg?  This is Albert Brooks."

Crap Ellwood.  You better wake up, snap out of it and get it together.

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<p>Keira Knightley has reunited with her &quot;Atonement&quot;&nbsp;director Joe Wright in &quot;Anna Karenina.&quot;</p>

Keira Knightley has reunited with her "Atonement" director Joe Wright in "Anna Karenina."

Credit: AP Photo

Oscar Bait: 'Moonrise Kingdom' and 'Anna Karenina' set their sights on 2012

Focus Features dates their awards players for next year

In theory, there is nothing wrong with having your film labeled "Oscar bait."  Sure, it insinuates that the picture is being released or aimed at an audience interested in awards worthy films, but most of the time they usually turn out more than O.K.  Some major Oscar bait movies this year were "The Descendants," "War Horse," "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," "The Ides of March" and "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy."  Of course, "Carnage," "Anonymous" and "J. Edgar" had that label too.  Focus Features, which has had a superb year so far with "Beginners," "Tinker," "Jane Eyre" and the upcoming "Pariah," released their 2012 schedule today and - no surprise - a number of potential contenders for the next Oscar season made the list.

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