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<p>Beyonce at the Super Bowl</p>

Beyonce at the Super Bowl

Credit: Matt Slocum/AP

Music Power Rankings: Beyonce, Justin Bieber and Britney Spears lead the list

Tim McGraw and Bruce Springsteen also rate this week

1. Beyonce: She shows everyone, including her Destiny’s Child band mates, how its done during the Super Bowl half time show. Sales of Beyonce and Destiny’s Child music up 197%. Sales of black lingerie up 587%. estimated 104 million

2. Justin Bieber: The boy wonder scores a record-setting  five No. 1 albums before he turns 19. Maybe he is the Prince of Pop after all.

3. Britney Spears: Caesars Entertainment confirms it is in talks with Britney Spears to bring her show to Planet Hollywood. Wouldn’t Circus Circus be more appropriate?

4. Tim McGraw: His new album “Two Lanes of Freedom,” puts him back in the driver’s seat after years of fighting with former label, Curb.

5. Bruce Springsteen:
He was honored as MusiCares Person of the Year by his buddies Sting, Elton, Faith, Tim, etc... If you have to ask for last names, your invite got lost in the mail.

6. Fall Out Boy:
Five years after their last album, the Pete Wentz-led group returns. Will the music be as entertaining as the song titles?

7. The Wanted:
The U.K. boy band lands its own reality TV show. Radio may not be interested in them, but E! is.

8. Gloria Estefan: She and her husband plan are Broadway show based on her music and their lives.  Rhythm is gonna get you.

9. Warner Music: The third remaining major label group buys Parlophone for more than $700 million from UMG-owned EMI. That’s a lot of Coldplay and David Guetta records.

10. Skrillex:
He pairs with Cirque du Soleil for a Las Vegas residency. From the Beatles to dubstep? Really, Cirque?

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<p>CIA&nbsp;Agent and &quot;The Master of Disguise&quot;&nbsp;author Antonio Mendez at the Washington premiere of &quot;Argo&quot;</p>

CIA Agent and "The Master of Disguise" author Antonio Mendez at the Washington premiere of "Argo"

Credit: AP Photo/Cliff Owen

'Argo' wins the USC Scripter Award

Is it being underestimated for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar?

In yet another surprise (though I guess there should be none by now with this film), "Argo" has picked up an interesting win en route to the Oscars. Journalist Joshua Bearman (article, "The Great Escape"), author Antonio Mendez (book, "The Master of Disguise") and screenwriter Chris Terrio ("Argo") have taken the USC Scripter Award over some heated competition.

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Justin Bieber and Kenan Thompson on 'Saturday Night Live'

Justin Bieber and Kenan Thompson on 'Saturday Night Live'

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'Saturday Night Live' – Justin Bieber

Does the teen pop heartthrob have what it takes to host 'SNL'?

This is going to be terrible. Unless it’s awesome. Then again, it could be mediocre. 

Look, there’s an intense amount of hype about tonight’s Justin Bieber-hosted “Saturday Night Live”. But predicting the overall quality based on any host is a fool’s game. We’ve seen sure-fire selections fizzle under the lights of live television, and those that seemed destined for failure rise up and exceed expectations. The metrics that went into select Bieber himself may be suspect (come on, this is about ratings above all else), but there’s no reason to think this will be any better or worse than anything else we’ve seen thus far this season.
 
Indications that Bieber will or will not be a good host should be evident early on. Does the show bust out a host of other celebrities to surround/protect him? Will Bieber play himself in the majority of the sketches? Will he be OK with putting his carefully calibrated image upon the comedic chopping block? Ultimately, this isn’t really about Bieber being a good host so much as a game one. So long as he’s one or the other, it’s a success for him. The success for “SNL” will be putting forth its first good episode of 2013. That somewhat rests of Bieber’s shoulders, but more on the strength of the sketches themselves.
 
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<p>Will &quot;Argo&quot; continue its winning streak at the BAFTAs tomorrow?</p>

Will "Argo" continue its winning streak at the BAFTAs tomorrow?

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Predicting the BAFTA awards

'Argo?' 'Life of Pi?' What will win, and what should?

Tomorrow night's BAFTA Awards are the last televised stop on the awards calendar before the Oscars, and in a year where several key races remain unsettled, they'll be watched even more eagerly than usual by awards pundits. (Well, "followed" if not "watched" -- I, for one, won't have access to the live broadcast of the show, annually shown on a quaint tape-delay system that suggests the BBC hasn't quite got to grips yet with a little thing called the internet. But I digress.)

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<p>&quot;Roof Sex&quot;&nbsp;by PES</p>

"Roof Sex" by PES

Credit: PES Productions

Brush up on 'Fresh Guacamole' Oscar nominee PES

The underdog of this year's race is nevertheless a superb talent

We broke down the Best Animated Short category last week both in the on-going Oscar Guide feature (other editions linked below this post) and on yesterday's Oscar Talk podcast. The race is a bit nebulous with the recent decision to open the category up to the entire Academy, with fine cases made for Disney's "Paperman," self-funded "Adam and Dog" and student film "Head Over Heels," Annie winners all. The notion of voting blocs has also suggested an edge for "Paperman" and "Maggie Simpson in ' The Longest Daycare.'" The one thing most seem to agree on is that the brief, bold "Fresh Guacamole" is the underdog.

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"Project Runway"

 "Project Runway"

Credit: Lifetime

Reality TV Roundup: The latest on 'American Idol,' 'Project Runway' and more

It's been a busy week, so get all your reality news here, now

 Welcome to Reality TV Roundup -- a quick look at some of the reality TV-centric stories that have recently popped up across the fine, old Interwebs. Click away, my couch potato friends. But before you do...

SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! One more time: SPOILER ALERT. If you watch any competition shows, the latest elimination for each show is probably revealed in the text below. The hope is that, if you missed this week's program and would rather clear out your DVR than watch the episode, you can get a quick hit here. But don't come crying to me if you find out something you didn't want to know. You've been warned. Also note: lots of non-competition reality info lurks below, too. 

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Grammys 2013: Recapping the predictions for Sunday's show

Grammys 2013: Recapping the predictions for Sunday's show

Frank Ocean, Mumford & Sons, fun., The Black Keys vie for the major awards

Last year, making Grammy predictions was ridiculously easy: just pick Adele in any category in which she was nominated. This year, the exercise is a little more challenging. There's no clear front-runner, though several artists, including Kanye West, Mumford & Sons, Frank Ocean, fun., The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach and Jay-Z, received six nominations each. Expect no one artist to sweep this year. As you'll see with my predictions, it looks like the artists will share the wealth on Sunday night. The Grammys air at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

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<p>Tim McGraw</p>

Tim McGraw

Credit: Donn Jones/AP

Josh Groban and Tim McGraw lead next week's Billboard 200

Grammy Awards could bring about some changes on Sunday

Sunday night’s Grammy Awards could throw next week’s Billboard 200 album chart into disarray should a surprise winner emerge, but with two days to go until the chart week ends, Josh Groban’s “All That Echoes” looks like a lock for No. 1 with sales of up to 145,000. Read Hitfix’s interview with Groban here.

The baritone leads the four new titles in next week’s Top 10: coming in at No. 2 will likely be Tim McGraw with “Two Lanes of Freedom,” his first album on Big Machine after switching from Curb Records. The set, which will top Billboard’s Country Album chart next week, will sell up to 105,000 copies. “Now That’s What I Call Music 45” looks good for No. 45 with 90,000 units, according to Hits Daily Double.

Christian contemporary act Red’s fourth album, “Release The Panic” looks good for No. 10. The Nashville-based group’s previous album, “Until We Have Faces” bowed at No. 2.

No. 4 will likely belong to Grammy album of the year nominee “Babel” from Mumford & Sons. Though most of the Grammy winners won’t see big jumps until the chart after this, if “Babel” wins several Grammys, expect it to possibly move higher than No. 4. Similarly, best new artist nominee The Lumineers could also see its self-titled set climb higher than No. 5, as it is now projected to land.

This week’s No. 1, “Believe Acoustic” from Justin Bieber, likely falls to No. 6. Bruno Mars’ “Unorthodox Jukebox” and Taylor Swift’s “Red” are in tie for No. 7, with each targeted to sell 40,000-45,000 copies.

 

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A scene from "Paradise: Hope."
A scene from "Paradise: Hope."
Credit: Strand Releasing

Review: 'Paradise: Hope' concludes a provocative trilogy on a humane note

Earlier chapters played Cannes and Venice, but Berlin gets the best of the three

BERLIN - Funny, disquieting and featuring more sexual humiliation and self-flagellation than any project with which James Franco is currently connected, Ulrich Seidl's newly completed "Paradise" trilogy has recently bombarded the European festival circuit -- in a manner unmatched since Krzysztof Kieslowski's "Three Colors" films hit the Venice-Berlin-Cannes route, almost 20 years ago, in the space of just nine months. Less than a year after pitiless sex-tourism study "Paradise: Love" jolted Cannes and religious fundamentalism parable "Paradise: Faith" took a major Venice prize, the youth-focused "Paradise: Hope" has seen out the Austrian auteur's unsettling vision with a premiere closer to home at the Berlinale.

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<p>Joe Swanberg may have traded punches with Devin Faraci at last year's Fantastic Fest, but should filmmakers really attack critics for what they do?</p>

Joe Swanberg may have traded punches with Devin Faraci at last year's Fantastic Fest, but should filmmakers really attack critics for what they do?

Credit: Sundance Film Festival

Is it ever appropriate for a filmmaker to fight back after a bad review?

A drive-by attack on Facebook has us wondering about the new rules of engagement

Is it cool for a filmmaker to fight back?

I know there are film critics who genuinely enjoy writing bad reviews.  Hell, I've met film critics (and music critics and TV critics and book critics) who seem to live for that moment when they get to roll something over, find the soft spot, and tear the stomach out completely.  The taste of blood is the thing that keeps them going, the thing that really turns them on as a writer.

I would not say I enjoy writing a bad review.  I certainly don't walk into films looking to hate them.  I will say that when a film is particularly hard to sit through, there is a satisfaction that comes from drawing a little blood in return, and some films seem to have such naked contempt for the audience that I don't mind returning some of the same to them.  And while there is something about the relationship between critics and filmmakers that has to be contentious, just by its nature, should it ever reach the point where Joe Swanberg or Uwe Boll are climbing into a boxing ring eager to actually hurt a critic because of something that was written?

At the end of this year's Sundance Film Festival, I was asked (along with all the other critics who were there as part of our team this year) to contribute both my favorite and my least favorite titles from the fest for a gallery that we publish each year.  At the time I submitted it, I had not written a formal review yet for Calvin Lee Reeder's "The Rambler," one of the midnight titles, but there was no doubt in my mind that it was my least favorite film from the fest this year, and I included it in the two picks that I sent.  I still planned to write a review, and when it got added to the line-up for SXSW Midnighter, I made short mention of it.  I certainly didn't take a big pointed shot at it.  I think it's better to explain yourself fully when you really didn't like something, especially when it's something personal like the work of Reeder so far.  Like it or dislike it, I can appreciate that there is something very specific he's trying to do.

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<p>Mumford &amp; Sons</p>

Mumford & Sons

Credit: Glassnote

Grammy Awards 2013: Handicapping Album of the Year

Will Mumford & Sons, fun. or Frank Ocean take the big prize?

As the Feb. 10 55th annual Grammy Awards edge closer, we’re analyzing a category a day. Today, we look at the biggest award of them all, Album of the Year.

Album of the Year nominees
“El Camino,”  The Black Keys
“Some Nights,” fun.
“Babel,” Mumford & Sons
“Channel Orange,” Frank Ocean
“Blunderbuss,” Jack White


WHO’S MISSING:
Oh, how about anyone with a two X chromosomes? Though women made some of the most interesting albums of the year, artists like Fiona Apple, Florence + The Machine, Kelly Clarkson and Pink were ignored in this category (Don’t worry, Taylor Swift’s “Red” come out too late for eligibility this year; it was be a 2014 contender)

THE PLAYERS: Grammy voters usually include at least one veteran or heritage (read: geezer) act in this category, whether it be Neil Young, Steely Dan or Tony Bennett. Not this year. This year, the Grammys were current and accurate, picking the best of today’s crop of hit makers.

THE ODDS:
The chances of Jack White or  The Black Keys pulling an Arcade Fire-like upset that occurred in 2011 are slight (Fun fact: Arcade Fire is the only act to have its only Grammy--so far-- be album of the year).  Frank Ocean put out the most critically acclaimed album of 2012, but fun. and Mumford & Sons had greater mainstream success and sales, which will count since all members can vote in this category. Ocean’s “Channel Orange” feels like the most “important” record and that may make it a close race, but it may not have enough wind beneath its wings to lift it over “Babel.” Regardless of who wins, “Channel Orange” will be the record people will be calling a landmark album 20 years from now.

THE WINNER:
“Babel,” Mumford & Sons

Previous predictions:

Best Dance Recording
Record of the Year
Best Urban Contemporary Album
Song of the Year
Best Country Duo/Group Performance
Best Rock Song
Best R&B Performance
Best Pop Vocal Album
Best New Artist

 

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Ben Affleck's first Oscar
Credit: AP Photo/Susan Sterner

Ben Affleck's first Oscar

Looking back at the 'Argo' director's Academy Award-winning 'Good Will Hunting'

If indeed "Argo" beats the odds and the history and the stats and manages to take the Best Picture Oscar in a few weeks, Ben Affleck, in lieu of recognition as a director, will be able to take the stage at the Dolby Theatre and hold an Academy Award aloft as producer. But as we all know, it wouldn't be his first time clutching the little golden guy. That moment came on March 23, 1998.

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