Latest Blog Posts

<p>Jamie Foxx in &quot;Django Unchained.&quot;</p>

Jamie Foxx in "Django Unchained."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Contender Countdown: True and False before Golden Globes and SAG Awards nods

Is 'Django' a lock for a best picture nomination?

Isn't this fun? The race for best picture continues to surprise at each turn. Outside of "Amour's" win with the LAFCA contingent Sunday, "Zero Dark Thirty" has emerged as the critics favorite winning NYFCC, Boston Society of Film Critics and the National Board of Review (among others).  So far, the other presumed best picture frontrunners "Les Miserables," "Lincoln" and "Argo" have had to make due with just acting, directing or screenwriting honors.  Of course, all this will change beginning Wednesday when SAG pipes in for its yearly honors and on Thursday when the HFPA hopes to influence something (most entertainment industry executives will tell you its ticket sales and Emmy voters).  We're in the thick of it and pronouncements about the fates of contenders are being made left and right. Taking that into account, it seems appropriate to review some of these repeated refrains and determine whether or not they have any basis in reality.

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<p>&quot;Look, it's the bad guy for 'Star Trek Into Darkness'!&nbsp;I can't believe it's...&quot;&nbsp; &quot;SHHHH!&nbsp;Not one more word, Uhura!&quot;</p>

"Look, it's the bad guy for 'Star Trek Into Darkness'! I can't believe it's..."  "SHHHH! Not one more word, Uhura!"

Credit: Paramount/Bad Robot

IMAX prologue to 'Star Trek Into Darkness' teases expertly and answers nothing

One thing's for sure: the chemistry is definitely in full force for the sequel

Earlier this evening, I took the biggest "Star Trek" fan I know to see the nine-minute prologue that will be screened in IMAX venues in front of the release of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," and based on his reaction, I'd say JJ Abrams and crew have absolutely nothing to worry about when the film hits theaters in May of 2013.

Even now, at the end of the nine-minute presentation, I cannot conclusively tell you who Benedict Cumberbatch is playing.  We do meet him very early in the footage, though.  The film starts with an alarm clock going off, waking a married couple played by Nazneen Contractor and Noel Clarke.  They quickly get ready, peeking out their window at the rainy cityscape of London in the year 2259.  They drive to the London Children's Hospital to visit their little girl, who appears to be aging prematurely, sick and near-bald, completely unresponsive.  Clarke walks outside to catch some air and try to pull himself together, and someone steps up behind him to say, "I can save her."  Clarke turns around and we get our first look at Cumberbatch.

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<p>Claire Danes as Carrie on &quot;Homeland.&quot;</p>

Claire Danes as Carrie on "Homeland."

Credit: Showtime

Review: 'Homeland' - 'In Memoriam'

Carrie leads a search through the tunnels, and Brody considers his future

A review of tonight's "Homeland" coming up just as soon as I'm sometimes called The Bear...

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<p>Phil Keoghan of &quot;The Amazing Race&quot;</p>

Phil Keoghan of "The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' Season 21 Finale - 'Take Down That Million'

Which team made it to Phil first and won the big prize?
There's something to be said for dominance.
 
The 20th installment of "The Amazing Race," which aired last spring, culminated in bickering married couple Rachel & Dave winning the million dollars and finishing first in an astounding eight of 12 competitive Legs on the Race.
 
They were the New York Yankees of "The Amazing Race." They dominated from start to finish and there was almost no suspense. In fact, they were such an obscenely strong team that they screwed up the final task of the season, ran through the finish line, were corrected, went back and completed the task and ran through the finish line a second time, as if to mock the other teams. 
 
You looked back on Season 20 of "The Amazing Race" and you said, "Well duh. No other team possibly could have won and it was really cute that Rachel & Dave let the other teams travel with them around the world."
 
But the Yankees don't win the World Series every year, no matter how high their payroll happens to be.
 
Some years, the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals or the 1987 Minnesota Twins win the World Series. Sometimes, a team does exactly enough to make the playoffs and then exactly enough to win a series or two and then, on the biggest available stage, that team does exactly enough to come out on top. If you look at the 2006 baseball season, the Cardinals were only the best team in baseball on October 27, but that was the last day of the season, so that's the only day that counts. 
 
There probably wasn't a New York Yankees for the 21st installment of "The Amazing Race." Abbie & Ryan thought they were going to be, but multiple travel gaffes in Germany sent them packing. Several teams won a couple Legs. One team won three Legs. But if you want to talk about the importance of finishing strong, the teams in this season's "Amazing Race" Top 3 finished 10th, 9th and 7th in the season-opening Leg. So maybe the final results on Sunday (December 9) night were appropriate. If no team was going to be able to win "The Amazing Race" and claim unquestioned supremacy, maybe this was exactly the correct result for this season.
 
More after the break...
 
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<p>Best Supporting Actress BIFA winner&nbsp;Olivia Colmasn in &quot;Hyde Park on Hudson.&quot;</p>

Best Supporting Actress BIFA winner Olivia Colmasn in "Hyde Park on Hudson."

Credit: Focus Features

'Broken,' 'Berberian Sound Studio' win big at British Independent Film Awards

Acting wins for Olivia Colman and Andrea Riseborough, 'Best Exotic' shut out

The British Independent Film Awards are known for surprises, and true to form, they sprung a last-minute one at tonight's ceremony. As I'd anticipated, Peter Strickland's critically beloved horror homage "Berberian Sound Studio" enjoyed a great haul, taking Best Director, Best Actor for Toby Jones and two extra prizes for production and technical achievement. But just as it seemed set to take the night, they swung left, handing the top prize to "Broken," the debut feature from acclaimed theater director Rufus Norris -- an unexpected choice both because it received mixed reviews upon its Cannes premiere, and won't  be released until the spring in the UK. The film won in only one other category, for Best Supporting Actor.

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<p>Best Actor winner Joaquin Phoenix in &quot;The Master,&quot;&nbsp;an obvious favorite with the LAFCA</p>

Best Actor winner Joaquin Phoenix in "The Master," an obvious favorite with the LAFCA

Credit: The Weinstein Company

'Amour,' 'The Master' win big with Los Angeles Film Critics Association

'Zero Dark Thirty' finally hits the brakes

Over a week after their colleagues on the east coast went in big for Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty," the Los Angeles Film Critics Association put the brakes on Kathryn Bigelow's film, which has been dominating the circuit. It even won two Best Picture prizes today, but one of them was not LAFCA's crown. Instead, the LA critics went with Michael Haneke's "Amour," and as a runner-up, a film clearly beloved by the group that won four other prizes, including Best Director, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress.

Check out the full list of winners below with running commentary.

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Anne Hathaway reasserted herself in the Best Supporting Actress competition despite heat from Sally Field.
Anne Hathaway reasserted herself in the Best Supporting Actress competition despite heat from Sally Field.
Credit: Universal Pictures

'Zero Dark Thirty' tops New York Film Critics Online winners

Are we sensing a pattern here?

Just minutes after the Boston Society of Film Critics crowned "Zero Dark Thirty" the year's best film, the New York Film Critics Online went and did the very same thing. They also spotlighted Kathryn Bigelow in the Best Director category (as well as Mark Boal's screenplay), and, like Boston, went with Daniel Day-Lewis and Emmanuelle Riva in the lead acting categories.

Check out the full list of NYFCO winners below with running commentary.

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Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" kept showing as a runner-up but only won one prize, alas.
Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" kept showing as a runner-up but only won one prize, alas.
Credit: Focus Features

'Zero Dark Thirty' wins Best Picture and Best Director from the Boston Society of Film Critics

Another feather in Kathryn Bigelow's cap

The Boston Society of Film Critics has joined the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Board of Review in crowning "Zero Dark Thirty" the year's best film. Kathryn Bigelow won Best Director while Daniel Day-Lewis ("Lincoln") and Emmanuelle Riva ("Amour") won top acting honors. The group clearly liked "Moonrise Kingdom," which won Best Use of Music and went on to pop up in a number of runner-up spots.

Check out the full list of winners below with running commentary on the winners.

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<p>Alicia Keys</p>

Alicia Keys

Credit: Charles Sykes/AP

Music Power Rankings: Alicia Keys, Rihanna and Justin Bieber

Tamar Braxton also makes the cut, thanks to Lady Gaga

1. The Grammy nominations: While there is no sure frontrunner like Adele was last year, Dec. 5’s nominations showed a wide breadth of potential mega winners on Feb. 10 as Mumford & Sons, Kanye West, the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, fun., Jay-Z and Frank Ocean all receive six nominations.

2. Alicia Keys: She is truly a “Girl On Fire,” as her album’s No. 1 debut on the Billboard 200 this week ties her for the most consecutive No. 1 albums by solo artists.  She joins DMX, R. Kelly, Kanye West and Luther Vandross.

3. DMX: Speaking of DMX, the rapper delivers an impromptu version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” during a radio station visit and instantly creates a new classic. What?

4. Rihanna:
Her domination of the pop charts isn’t enough: now the star has set her sights on TV: She will appear in “Styled To Rock,” a new Style Network series featuring 12 designers handpicked by Ri-Ri. Move over “Project Runway.”

5. Tamar Braxton:
The power of Lady Gaga is undeniable. She tweets about “Love & War,” Braxton’s new single (yes, Tamar, not Toni) and the single goes straight to No. 1 on iTunes. It’s no coincidence, however: Braxton is married to Vincent Herbert, the music exec who signed a 20-year old Lady Gaga.

6. Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta: T
he pair’s stultifyingly so-bad-it’s-good video for Christmas-themed “I Think You Might Like It” shows why you can really never go back home again.  Rizzo was smart enough to stay away.

7. Justin Bieber:
The teen heart throb gets the wrong kind of attention after his manager tells the Grammys they “blew it” by not nominating Bieber. Man up: You don’t see Lionel Richie crying that he didn’t get nominated for “Tuskegee,”  and he sold more than Bieber.

8. Metallica: The band streams its full back catalog on Spotify, ending any lingering rift between Napster’s co-founder/Spotify investor Sean Parker, whom the band sued in 2000. The true winner? Metallica fans.

9. Superstorm Sandy Benefit:
The Rolling Stones are the latest superstars  added to 12/12/12’s Madison Square Garden benefit, joining Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Bon Jovi, The Who, Kanye West, and several more. You don’t have to wait for the show to donate to the Robin Hood Foundation, which will disperse the funds to communities still reeling from the storm’s devastation. Go here.

10. Led Zeppelin: The world’s greatest rock band puts on tuxes and cleans up real nice as President Obama shows them a whole lotta love at the Kennedy Center Honors.



 

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<p>Robert De Niro poses on the red carpet before receiving the Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Santa Barbara, CA Saturday night.</p>

Robert De Niro poses on the red carpet before receiving the Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Santa Barbara, CA Saturday night.

Credit: AP Photo/Richard Shotwell

Robert De Niro turns the spotlight back on Kirk Douglas at Santa Barbara salute

96-year-old legend receives an original manuscript of 'Raging Bull' from De Niro and Scorsese

SANTA BARBARA - The Santa Barbara International Film Festival presented the 7th Annual Kirk Douglas Award for Film Excellence Saturday night to Robert De Niro.  Douglas, who turned a spry 96-years-old on Sunday, was on hand as were De Niro's "Silver Lining Playbook" cohorts Bradley Cooper and director David O. Russell.  Previous honorees include Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Quentin Tarantino, Ed Harris, John Travolta and Kirk Douglas himself.

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Jason Sudeikis and Jamie Foxx.

Jason Sudeikis and Jamie Foxx.

Credit: SNL

Recap: 'Saturday Night Live' – Jamie Foxx and Ne-Yo

The "Django Unchained" star graces the "SNL" stage.

After a three-week break, “Saturday Night Live” is back with host Jamie Foxx. He’s here promoting his upcoming film “Django Unchained,” which pretty much makes me what to refer to him as “Djamie” throughout tonight’s recap. (In both cases, the “D” is silent.) Foxx initially shot to stardom through small-screen sketch comedy “In Living Color”, so it will hopefully be fun to see him in Studio 8H tonight. Along for the ride will be musical guest Ne-Yo, who has been all over television this week. He appeared on both “The Voice” as well as CBS’s Grammys Nomination special, so I’m super stoked to hear the “Let Me Love You” trifecta tonight.

 
I know better than to have high or low hopes based on host alone at this point. So let’s let the episode unfold and see what happens. As always, I’ll be recapping each sketch in order as they unfold. As always, you will read those grades, shake your fist to the heavens, and then attempt to place an objective grade upon a subjective medium. It’s all I want for Christmas, really. (Well, that and for you to subscribe to my weekly “SNL” podcast that I host every week with The Huffington Post’s Mike Ryan. I’d like that as well, please.)
 
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<p>This can't end well.</p>

This can't end well.

Credit: Universal Pictures

Tom Cruise fights humans and aliens alike in the first trailer for science-fiction epic 'Oblivion'

Looks like Will Smith's got some 'After Earth' competition next year

I may not have cared much for "TRON: Legacy," but my problems were primarily with the script.  Joseph Kosinski's work as a director was meticulous and often quite beautiful, and I walked away curious to see what he could do with a different (and better) screenplay.

Maybe "Oblivion" is that screenplay.  I certainly hope so after seeing the first trailer for the film.  I always root for big-budget original science fiction, and I would love for this to be a smart action film that uses its impressive backdrop as a way to tell a story that really means something, a film that is more than just empty calories.  The reason I fell in love with science-fiction in the first place is because of the way it can tell universal stories about who we are and where we're going and how we relate to each other and the world around us, but one step removed, which often makes even the most difficult message more palatable.  It helps that two of the credited writers on the film are Michael Arndt, who is of course currently hard at work on "Star Wars: Episode VII," and Oscar-winner William Monahan.  Not too shabby.

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