<p>Kellan Lutz and Nikki Reed show their tree strength in a scene from &quot;The Twilight Saga:&nbsp;Breaking Dawn, Pt. 1.&quot;</p>

Kellan Lutz and Nikki Reed show their tree strength in a scene from "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Pt. 1."

Credit: Summit Entertainment

Box Office: 'Breaking Dawn' fights off the 'Muppets' to stay no. 1

'Shame' has a spectacular limited debut

"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Pt. 1" pulled off a rare feat this year retaining the top spot at the box office for a third straight weekend.  With $16.9 million and $247.5 million to date domestic and over $550 million worldwide, the fourth installment of Stephenie Meyers' vampire saga has given Summit Entertainment an early if not expected Christmas present.  The picture also is a rare three-weekend topper this calendar year joining "The Help" (four weekends) and "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" (three) in that regard.

Before Friday many industry observers thought Disney's "The Muppets" could use strong word of mouth to overtake "Breaking Dawn" for the top spot.  Not only did that not occur, the Jason Segel passion project didn't even come close with just another $11.2 million and a troubling 62% drop. With just $56.4 million so far its unlikely the "Muppets" will hit the $100 million mark.

"Hugo," which upped its theater count to 1,840 locations this weekend, grossed $7.6 million.  The National Board of Review winner for best picture pulled has now grossed $25.1 million to date. Paramount Pictures and GK Films will continue to hope awards season recognition can fuel Martin Scorsese's latest critical wonder.

Another film showing true word of mouth appears to be "Arthur Christmas."  The Sony Animation and Aardman collaboration dropped only 39% for another $7.5 million and $25.2 million so far.  The Santa Claus themed animated comedy will still need international to make up most of its $100 million plus budget, but the hold is certainly a nice silver lining for the filmmakers.

Rounding out the top five was "Happy Feet Two" with $6 million and $51.7 million to date. Warner Bros. can take solace that "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" looks like it will have a monster opening in two weeks.

"Shame" debuted in 10 theaters with a spectacular $361,181 or $36,118 per screen.  It's even more impressive when taking the film's NC-17 rating into account.  Fox Searchlight will hope that continued critical acclaim and awards season attention fuels interest in Steve McQueen's breakout.

Another impressive limited player is "The Artist."  After winning the NYFCC award for best picture, The Weinstein Company release didn't drop after adding 2 screens for another $205,580 and a $34,263 per screen. 

"The Descendants" continued its strong limited run as well jumping to 574 theaters and another $5.2 million.  Searchlight's premier best picture player has now grossed an impressive $18 million to date.

Next weekend's wide releases include "New Year's Eve" and "The Sitter."

Box office actuals are released on Monday.

<p>Tilda Swinton in &quot;We Need To Talk About Kevin.&quot;</p>

Tilda Swinton in "We Need To Talk About Kevin."

Credit: Oscillscope Films

Tilda Swinton and 'Melancholia' get nice boost from European Film Awards

Colin Firth wins best actor for 'The King's Speech'

The 24th Annual European Film Awards were announced during a ceremony in Berlin Saturday night and Lars Von Trier's "Melancholia" dominated the show winning three awards including European Film (best film), European Cinematographer (Manuel Alberto Claro) and European Production Designer (Jette Lehmann).

Unlike the BAFTAs which feature a cross section of Academy and U.S. guild members, the European Film Awards have little connection or relevance to the U.S. awards season.  2,400 members vote on the awards and the last three European Film Award winners included "The Ghost Writer," "The White Ribbon" and "Gmorrah."  The latter wasn't even nominated for foreign language film and "White Ribbon" lost that category.  Polanski's excellent "Ghost Writer " was completely overlooked by the Academy.  The organization also has a strange calendar year which found "The King's Speech" eligible for this year's slate of awards.  That lead to Colin Firth winning the European Actor award this year for the flick.

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<p>Daniel Craig at the press conference announcing the new James Bond film's title, &quot;Skyfall.&quot;</p>

Daniel Craig at the press conference announcing the new James Bond film's title, "Skyfall."

Credit: AP Photo/Joel Ryan

Q&A: John Logan's busy year of 'Rango,' 'Coriolanus,' 'Hugo' and James Bond

Plus: The freedom of a Mendes 007 movie and reuniting with Ralph Fiennes

You've heard it time and time again this season like a constant drumbeat banging in your ear: "It's the year of Michael Fassbender." Or, "It's the year of Jessica Chastain."  Or, even "It's the year of Melissa McCarthy."  Well, how about the year of John Logan?  

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<p>Ralph Fiennes talks &quot;Coriolanus.&quot;</p>

Ralph Fiennes talks "Coriolanus."

Ralph Fiennes reflects on the inspiration of Anthony Mingehlla and Baz Luhrmann's 'Romeo & Juliet'

'Coriolanus' helmer talks Shakespeare, Jessica Chastain and more

It may seem like a lost opportunity to some, but when sitting down with Ralph Fiennes last month the last thing I wanted to discuss was his role as Voldemort in the "Harry Potter" films or what he'd bring to the "Clash of the Titans" sequel, "Wrath of the Titans," next year (That said, I couldn't resist trying to ask about his role in the new James Bond film "Skyfall," shooting next month, but he smiled and said he couldn't say anything). No matter, the subject this day was Fiennes' impressive directorial debut, "Coriolanus."

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<p>Asa Butterfield and Chloe Moretz in a scene from Martin Scorsese's &quot;Hugo.&quot;</p>

Asa Butterfield and Chloe Moretz in a scene from Martin Scorsese's "Hugo."

Credit: Paramount Pictures

'Hugo' and George Clooney headline 2011 National Board of Review winners

Tilda Swinton surprises as best actress

The National Board of Review announced their 2011 year-end winners today and provided a number of surprises.

Martin Scorsese's "Hugo" won both best film and best director besting other contenders including the NYFCC winner "The Artist," Alexander Payne's "The Descendants," Steven Spielberg's "War Horse" and Lars von Trier's "Melancholia." 

Presumptive best actor frontrunner George Clooney won best actor while Tilda Swinton shocked to win best actress for her riveting work in "We Need To Talk About Kevin."  Christopher Plummer picked up yet another best supporting actor win for "Beginners" and Shailene Woodley finally found love for her work in "The Descendants" in the best supporting actress category.

The NBR spread the wealth to other films including "50/50" (best screenplay), "Like Crazy" (Felicity Jones, Breakthrough Performance), "Rango" (best animated feature), "The Help" (best ensemble), "Margin Call" (debut director) and "A Separation" (best foreign language film.  

A full list of this year's winners as well as the organization's top ten picks are as follows as well as come quick commentary in how this relates to the long-term Oscar race from this pundit.

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<p>Ben Stiller stole the show at the 2011 Britannia Awards. &nbsp;Someone get this man to host the Oscars. Please.</p>

Ben Stiller stole the show at the 2011 Britannia Awards.  Someone get this man to host the Oscars. Please.

Credit: AP Photo/Dan Steinberg

Ben Stiller's acceptance speech rules the 2012 Britannia Awards

Warren Beatty, Helena Bonham Carter, David Yates and John Lasseter also honored

No joke, the 2011 Britannia Awards have given movie fans and television viewers a reason to actually watch the TV Guide Network.  Taped at the Beverly Hilton Wednesday evening, BAFTA Los Angeles' biggest night honored Pixar guru John Lasseter, Helena Bonham Carter, director David Yates, Ben Stiller and the iconic Warren Beatty.  Alan Cumming hosted, stepping in for Stephen Fry who had MC'd the last few BAFTA's to critical acclaim (no pressure). Besides the honorees, the evening had lots of famous faces in the room including Morgan Freeman, Piers Morgan,  Anton Yelchin, Robin Williams to name a few, but the show makes TV Guide Network must watch (or must DVR) television for the great acceptance speeches by Carter and Stiller as well as some fantastic introductions by Jason Issacs (for Yates), Williams (Lasseter), Robert Downey, Jr. (Stiller), Oliver Platt (Beatty) and Barry Levinson (also Beatty). 

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<p>Michael Fassbender discusses his work in &quot;Shame&quot;&nbsp;and &quot;A&nbsp;Dangerous Method.&quot;</p>

Michael Fassbender discusses his work in "Shame" and "A Dangerous Method."

Michael Fassbender on facing fear in 'Shame' and 'A Dangerous Method'

An epic interview in only 6 minutes

If two actors have dominated the cinematic media hype machine this year it's clearly been Jessica Chastain and Michael Fassbender.  

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<p>Melissa McCarthy in the now infamous Hidden Valley Ranch sketch from her hosting gig on &quot;Saturday Night Live.&quot;</p>

Melissa McCarthy in the now infamous Hidden Valley Ranch sketch from her hosting gig on "Saturday Night Live."

Credit: NBC

'Bridesmaids' Paul Feig reflects on Melissa McCarthy 'destroying it' on 'SNL'

An in the audience reaction from the comedy veteran

Paul Feig is a big fan of Melissa McCarthy and not just because she helped turn his comedy "Bridesmaids" into a global blockbuster.  No, the "Freaks and Geeks" creator recognizes something in McCarthy he's seen before.  The joy of when untapped talent is unleashed.  Such as Steve Carell.

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<p>We know Felicity.&nbsp; We're sad about &quot;Like Crazy&quot;&nbsp;getting shafted at the Spirits too.</p>

We know Felicity.  We're sad about "Like Crazy" getting shafted at the Spirits too.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

2012 Spirit Awards nominees Winners and Losers

What happened to 'Like Crazy' and George Clooney?

The one thing you have to realize about the Independent Spirit Awards is that as much as the event exists to reward films that won't get the recognition they deserve from the Oscars, SAG Awards or Golden Globe Awards, they also usually result in some head scratching choices.  It's hard to argue with many of this year's nominees, but some of the overlooked had even their competitors questioning the organization's selection process.  The selections are actually chosen by committees broken up by American, International, Documentary and other specific categories.  Unlike the SAG or Oscars, this is a very small group making arbitrary decisions about the nominees.  For example, the American Narrative nominating committee only had 17 people selecting the nods (a much larger membership group gets to vote on the actual winners).

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<p>Jean Dujardin and B&eacute;r&eacute;nice Bejo in &quot;The Artist.&quot;</p>

Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo in "The Artist."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Analysis: 'The Artist' dances away with New York Film Critics' Circle awards

'Moneyball' and Meryl Streep get big boosts

Proving being first has its disadvantages, the New York Film Critic's Circle met Monday morning to decide on their year end awards.  Unfortunately, because of the organization's need to beat everyone else to the party (don't get me started), they were unable to screen Stephen Daldry's highly anticipated "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" for consideration.  So, should there be an asterisk next to this year's selections?  Possibly, but judging by the love for best picture winner "The Artist," probably not.

After all the buzz for "War Horse" and "The Descendants'" superb reviews and box office over the Thanksgiving frame, Oscar player "The Artist" needed a nice boost to keep in step on the publicity front and boy did they get it.  Winning the NYFCC award for best feature film and best director for Michel Hazanavicius along with the film's surprising five Independent Spirit Awards, including best feature film, mean The Weinstein Company has a lot to brag about.  Well, at least until Thursday when the National Board of Review reveals their top picture which many assume will be "The Artist" anyway.  It has certainly left other studios reassessing their campaigns for the weeks ahead.

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