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"E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial"

Credit: Universal Pictures

Academy to celebrate 30th anniversary of Steven Spielberg's 'E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial'

...and not 'Gandhi'

When I sat down last season to cook up a list of Steven Spielberg's best work as a director, I had some hard thinking to do. I had always held "Jaws" in higher esteem than the rest of his filmography for a variety of reasons, but as I dug in on all of his movies one more time, I found myself leaning to "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" for the first time, and it kind of shocked me.

"While they are both masterpieces, I settled on the willful masterpiece for the top spot and the accidental one [in second]," I wrote at the time. "'Jaws' was a runaway train that somehow, miraculously, became the sterling piece of cinema it is today...but 'E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial' is a perfect film, plain and simple. Every single thing is in its right place, and this, the turning point of Spielberg's career -- igniting his desire to start a family, swinging his thematic pendulum in another direction -- marks the end of his early era."

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<p>Flo Rida</p>

Flo Rida

Credit: AP Photo

Flo Rida's 'Whistle' blows Taylor Swift out of the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100

Who score the lone new entry into the Top 10?

Flo Rida’s “Whistle” blows its way back into the top spot of the Billboard Hot 100 this week, displacing Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” which falls to No. 2.

“Whistle” topped the Billboard Hot 100 three weeks ago before “Never” surged to No. 1. Don’t feel too sorry for Swift: in just three weeks, “Never” has sold more than 1 million downloads, and the song continues to build in airplay, according to Billboard.

Maroon 5’s “One More Night,” the follow-up to “Payphone” continues its ascent, as it rises 4-3; it switches places with Ellie Goulding’s “Lights,” which drops to No. 4. Fun.’s “Some Nights” remains at No. 5

Neon Trees’ “Everybody Talks” leaps 11-6 to earn the only new entry into the Top 10 this week. Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake” stays at No. 7. Carly Rae Jepsen continues to lodge two songs in the Top 10:  “Good Time,” her duet with Owl City, rises 9-8, while “Call Me Maybe, which spent nine weeks at No. 1, falls 6-10. Justin Bieber’s “As Long As You Love Me” inches up one spot to No. 9.

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<p>Alicia Vikander and Mads Mikkelsen in &quot;A Royal Affair.&quot;</p>

Alicia Vikander and Mads Mikkelsen in "A Royal Affair."

Credit: Magnolia Pictures

Telluride Roundup: 'A Royal Affair,' 'Iceman,' 'Hyde Park on Hudson'

Plus: 'Amour,' 'Rust & Bone,' 'The Gatekeepers' and more

It will painful for the organizers to hear this, but it was hard to find anyone who thought this was a strong year for the Telluride Film Festival.  The 39th edition featured tributes to Marion Cotillard and Mads Mikkelsen, but only one or two films that had the attendees raving. Longtime festival goers didn't seem to mind that much, however, as they see the annual Labor Day event as a time to catch up with old cinephile friends from around the country.  

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<p>Stephen Chbosky (left)&nbsp;speaks with Emma&nbsp;Watson and Logan Lerman on the set of &quot;The Perks of Being a Wallflower.&quot;</p>

Stephen Chbosky (left) speaks with Emma Watson and Logan Lerman on the set of "The Perks of Being a Wallflower."

Credit: Summit Entertainment

Interview: Stephen Chbosky on Pittsburgh toughness and 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower'

The second-time director takes on the project of his dreams

When you've written a hit novel that has taken on a life of its own and become a beloved modern classic, translating it to film might render a bit of nervousness -- particularly if you're taking on the task yourself.

Author Stephen Chbosky's "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," published in 1999 and one of the American Library Association's top 10 most frequently challenged books (it has been banned from its share of high schools), took on such a life over the last decade. But for the writer, it was less nervousness than a bit of anxiety and eagerness to actually see the film version through.

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<p>Cat Power's &quot;Sun&quot;</p>

Cat Power's "Sun"

Credit: Matador

Review: Cat Power's 'Sun'

Transition from basement records to patio pop complete

Gone are the days of Cat Power's personal anxieties and “small” records. Chan Marshall has moved on from those with exuberant “The Greatest” as the nail in that particular coffin, and now with “Sun,” she waxes on larger-scale woes over skittering beats, weighty electronic arrangements that make it obvious this album is beloved in its songwriter’s eyes.

Opener “Cherokee” is the biggest and best indicator of this inside-out reflection, banging out whopper lyrics like “[I] never knew pain like this, when everything dies” but then maturing into musings on the American education system through a veil of pop-trip-hop (remember trip-hop?). Standout “Manhattan” tip-toes on the same three notes as Marshall remembers her earliest troubadour days, when she played decimated cafes, lived in sh*tboxes and the New York political atmosphere was not yet pock-marked by neo-patriotism, but by classicism and the struggle for “authenticity.”

And that’s been one of Marshall’s strength, all along, is that originality and realism, to have her foggy voice transition between bedroom bastard music to boppy, aggressive patio pop. Even on tracks like boozy “3, 6, 9” – which irritatingly repeats the same refrain 10+ times to little philosophical effect – Marshall’s narrative is still captivating enough to bear with.

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<p>Michael Haneke, Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant on the set of &quot;Amour.&quot;</p>

Michael Haneke, Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant on the set of "Amour."

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

'Amour' wins FIPRESCI Grand Prix for Film of the Year

International critics' prize honors best film premiered in the past 12 months

It's been a great week for Michael Haneke's "Amour." Not only was it confirmed yesterday as Austria's official entry in the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar race, but it played to predictably rapturous responses at Telluride -- reheating the Cannes buzz enough for us to place it in our Best Picture predictions on the sidebar. (We've had it listed in Best Director for a few months now.)

Now comes further good news. Sealing its status as the de facto critics' darling of 2012 so far, it was also just emerged as the winner of the FIPRESCI Grand Prix -- an annual award voted on by the 200-plus members of the international critics' federation, given to the best film premiered in the last 12 months. Haneke now joins Pedro Almodovar and Paul Thomas Anderson as the only two-time winners of the Grand Prix, which has been awarded since 1999. The award is presented every year at Spain's San Sebastian Film Festival in late September -- which is why it isn't detemined on a calendar-year basis.

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<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Credit: Big Machine

Five things we learned from today's CMA Awards nominations

Eric Church, Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert and Taylor Swift lead the nominees

Eric Church garnered the most nods this morning as nominations for the 46th annual Country Music Association Awards were announced by Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan (who subbed for Lady Antebellum, who could not get there because of weather delays). The gruff, rowdy singer received 5 nominations, including single and song of the year for “Springsteen.”

Married couple Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton have four nominations each, including a shared one for co-writing Song of the Year nominee “Over You.”  Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Kenny Chesney, Taylor Swift and Little Big Town collected three nominations apiece.

The CMAs will air Nov. 1 on ABC live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood will host for the fifth time.

As always, there were some surprises among the nominations. Below are six things we learned from the nominations. 

For a complete list of nominees, go here.

Boys Club: Taylor Swift, who has won the award the past two years, is the lone female in the group of solo male artists. Where’s Lady Antebellum, who served as country goodwill ambassadors this past year with a sold-out worldwide tour? Or Miranda Lambert, who, no offense to Blake Shelton, deserves the award more than her husband this year.

Odd Bedfellows:
Snoop Dogg (or Snoop Lion as he’s referred to as now), is nominated for a CMA Award. It’s in the Musical Event of the Year category, which is usually where you’ll find interlopers (both Robert Plant and Jimmy Buffett are past winners), but it would be a blast to see Snoop on the show performing his nominated song, Willie Nelson’s “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.” In addition to Snoop Dogg, the song also features Kris Kristofferson and Jamey Johnson.

Duo shortage: Country music has a shortage of strong pairs. For years, Brooks and Dunn dominated the Vocal Duo of the year category, and then Sugarland, after they kicked out Kristen Hall, took over the mantle. This year’s slate is stronger than it has been in the past, when acts whose singles had bombed were nominated just to pad out the category, but it remains one of the weakest categories.

Female Troubles: If we’re going to come down on the Academy for a poor slate for Vocal Duo of the year, then we can’t let the fact that Kelly Clarkson is nominated for Female Vocalist of the Year slide. Yes, she dabbles in country music and has even won a CMA Award for “Don’t You Wanna Stay” with Jason Aldean and duetted with Reba McEntire, but come on. It’s too bad Faith Hill’s single flopped and that left her pretty much ineligible, but fellow “American Idol” finalist Lauren Alaina should have gotten the nod before Clarkson.

Turn a Blind Eye: Lionel Richie’s “Tuskegee” is the highest selling country album released in 2012 (or will be until Taylor Swift’s “Red” comes out). However, the CMAs totally ignored the collection, which featured Richie performing his classic hits with country stars, other than in the Musical Event of the Year category, where “Stuck On You,” his duet with Darius Rucker, received a nod. The CMAs helped Richie debut the album last year with a long performance segment so voters must have figured they’d done their part in supporting the blockbuster set. Speaking of, the CMA voters really did not like Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away.” Neither the album nor any singles received nods, although Underwood was nominated for Female Vocalist.


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<p>Single artwork for &quot;Clique&quot;</p>

Single artwork for "Clique"

Listen: Kanye West raps about Kim Kardashian's sex tape on new track, 'Clique'

Track also features Jay Z and Big Sean

Kanye West can’t stop rapping about his lady love, Kim Kardashian. On this newly-released snippet from “Clique,” which first surfaced on TMZ,  he boasts about her past, including her infamous sex tape with Ray-J. Yeah, you heard that right. As you recall, he also declared his love for her months ago on “Theraflu” (later retitled “Cold”). He's also paid ode to her in a track called "Perfect Bitch."

[More after the jump...]

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<p>His role in 'The Slammin' Salmon' gave Duncan a big showcase for his big personality.</p>

His role in 'The Slammin' Salmon' gave Duncan a big showcase for his big personality.

Credit: Anchor Bay Entertainment

A personal goodbye to 'Green Mile' star Michael Clarke Duncan

A look back at the moment that gave him the rest of his career

The term "gentle giant" is a cliche, but in the case of Michael Clarke Duncan, it was completely appropriate.

I find it difficult to believe that Duncan is gone.  I find it hard to write about his passing, because it doesn't seem real.  Duncan was one of the most genuine wide-open souls I've ever had the pleasure of meeting, and my many encounters with him over the years all left me convinced he was someone who would work for the rest of his life, always in demand, always good when he's hired.

I remember hearing about him first.  Harry Knowles came back from his visit to the set of "Armageddon" completely and utterly in love with him.  No other way to put it.  Harry was convinced that of the entire sprawling ensemble, positively dripping with testosterone, Michael Clarke Duncan was the biggest personality, the guy he couldn't stop watching.  He was doing other films, busy with TV work, but "Armageddon" was a major jump into the foreground for him.  You can see him in "Bulworth" and "A Night At The Roxbury," and he's good considering what he's given to play, but he had to find the right thing, something that really showcased him.

Then came "The Green Mile."

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<p>Bradley Cooper seemed excited to discuss the possible film version of 'Hyperion' which he's co-writing when we spoke at the press day for 'The Words'</p>

Bradley Cooper seemed excited to discuss the possible film version of 'Hyperion' which he's co-writing when we spoke at the press day for 'The Words'

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Bradley Cooper talks about adapting the science-fiction classic 'Hyperion'

The 'Hangover' star doesn't think of himself as a writer

It is fitting that Bradley Cooper plays a writer in his new film "The Words."

To be more specific, he plays a frustrated writer, a man whose attempts to break into the world of publishing are met with indifference until he stumbles across a long-lost manuscript, known to nobody, and decides to claim it as his own.  He ends up winning acclaim for the piece and falling into a life that he doesn't earn, even as the real author of the piece stumbles across his own words, finally in print after having disappeared for almost a half-century.

It's a really nice performance by Cooper, but these days, he's not pretending to be a writer.  He's doing it.  He's working on adapting the Dan Simmons novel "Hyperion" into a film, something that's been frustrating filmmakers for a while now.

When I sat down with Cooper and Brian Klugman, one of the writer/directors of the movie, I didn't intend to bring up the project, but it seemed like a natural progression in the conversation, and I was curious to see what he had to say about the state of the script right now.

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<p>&quot;What's a Google+&nbsp;Hangout?&quot;&nbsp;Abraham pondered.</p>

"What's a Google+ Hangout?" Abraham pondered.

Credit: Touchstone Pictures

Steven Spielberg's 'Lincoln' trailer coming September 13

Google+ event to be broadcast in Times Square

Trailer for trailers and press releases for trailers. What a world. Though I guess Disney's big brou-ha-ha around the trailer for Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" is a little more understandable given the robust pomp and circumstance they're bringing to its debut.

According to a press release this afternoon, plans have been set to -- stay with me -- launch a Google+ Hangout (for those who didn't abandon the social networking attempt two days in) and premiere the trailer there on September 13. A live conversation with Spielberg and "Lincoln" star Joseph Gordon-Levitt will also be featured. The event will also be broadcast on the ABC SuperSign in the heart of New York's Times Square, and somewhere in there, my head just exploded.

Fans interested in participating are asked to upload a short video to their own YouTube channel with the #LincolnHangout tag explaining who they are, why they are interested in the film and what they would like to ask Spielberg and Gordon-Levitt about the film. And oh, here's the website:

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<p>Justin Bieber</p>

Justin Bieber

Listen: Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen on preview of 'Beautiful' single

Also: Biebs' manager Scooter Braun signs the 'Gangnam Style' guy

The prince of every pre-teen girls' dreams combines with the pop princess of summer jams: Justin Bieber's Schoolboy Records signee Carly Rae Jepsen will have her label boss on "Beautiful," a new Jason Mraz-style jam from her next solo effort "Kiss."

A minute-and-a-half snippet of "Beautiful has been "leaked" to varying degrees ahead of "Kiss'" Sept. 18 drop date, and it features shared vocals from the pop stars.

Biebs, in the track, extols the virtues of friendship and modesty: that his beauty is beautiful because "you don't know how beautiful you are."

Considering the girth of El Bieberino's fame, don't pass this buy as a top 40 radio single contender. The full-length song will likely drop in the coming days.

The title was laid bare as Jepsen Tweeted the "track list" for her album, which resembles the word-art doodlings of a freshman in Algebra II class. Jepsen is 26 years old.

Anyway, Bieber's own "Believe" is still in in the top 10 of the Billboard 200, and Jepsen's hit "Call Me Maybe" is still in the top 5 of the Hot 100. Both are in heavy rotation and out to help the climb.

Speaking of climb, as the video to "Gangnam Style" by South Korean artist Psy leaps past the 100 million view mark on YouTube, Bieber's manager Scooter Braun has decided nothing good and pure and perfect can last and has actually signed the rapper/vocalist for an American deal. I insinuate "ruin" because it's less fun when a crazy conflagration like that LMFAO-loving song and viral video have the Bieber name attached to it. If Schoolboy, Interscope and their ilk try to recreate the organic, crowd-built success of YouTube hits like "Gangnam," it's going carry a phony air. That horse trot is jumping the shark.

Anyway, here it is for 102 millionth time, for those who haven't checked it. My favorite part is when he's screaming over the yoga girl's ass.

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