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<p>Michel Hazanavicius arrives at last night's DGA Awards.</p>

Michel Hazanavicius arrives at last night's DGA Awards.

Credit: AP Photo/Dan Steinberg

Michel Hazanavicius takes DGA award

Oscar-snubbed 'Project Nim' wins in documentary category

And with that, I think you can just about call this Oscar race -- if you weren't willing to do so already. Fabricate uncertainty if you like by remembering the last time the winner of the award didn't take the Oscar (it was Rob Marshall, nine years ago), but in winning the Directors' Guild of America Award last night, "The Artist" and Michel Hazanavicius have enjoyed their biggest and most telling victory yet on the circuit.

There was speculation in some quarters that immense peer affection for previous DGA honoree Martin Scorsese could see him pull off an upset, but I'm not sure how realistic a prospect that really was -- when the industry embraces a frontrunner as warmly as they have "The Artist," and it happens to be a film that hinges on its showy directorial conceits, there's little reason to suspect they won't reward the helmer as well.

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<p>B&eacute;r&eacute;nice Bejo and Michel Hazanavicius walk the red carpet before the 2012 DGA&nbsp;Awards Saturday night.</p>

Bérénice Bejo and Michel Hazanavicius walk the red carpet before the 2012 DGA Awards Saturday night.

Credit: AP Photo/Dan Steinberg

'The Artist's' Michel Hazanavicus wins the 2012 DGA Award for film

'Project Nim,' 'Curb Your Enthusiasm,' Tony Awards helmers also honored

The Director's Guild of America announced their 2012 DGA Awards this evening and it featured a showdown in the feature film category that had every pundit and Oscar watcher this side of the Mississippi had their eye on: Michel Hazanavicus of "The Artist" vs. the legendary Martin Scorsese of "Hugo" fame.  With the Producer's Guild having already awarded "The Artist" their best picture equivalent last weekend if "The Artist" could take the DGA honor its would pretty much lock up best picture.*

*The SAG Awards are expected to go to the more star-friendly ensembles of "The Help" or "The Descendants" or even "Bridesmaids" Sunday night.

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<p>Woody&nbsp;Allen backstage at the 74th annual Academy Awards in 2002, his only appearance on the telecast to date</p>

Woody Allen backstage at the 74th annual Academy Awards in 2002, his only appearance on the telecast to date

Credit: AP Photo/Doug Mills

On Woody and Terrence, Oscar's inevitable no-shows

Don't expect cameras to find the directors of 'Midnight in Paris' or 'The Tree of Life'

The DGA Awards will be going down tonight, and the smart money remains on Michel Hazanavicius. But speaking of directors, I hadn't quite taken note yet of the fact that two of the Academy's nominees in the field are inevitable no-shows for the event. Stu VanAirsdale is way ahead of me, but let me add a few nuggets.

Woody Allen, of course, has only attended the Oscars once. It was a surprise appearance six months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks when the writer/director came out to introduce a Nora Ephron-directed package of clips featuring New York cinema in a show of solidarity for the city.

My colleague Steve Pond tells the story of being backstage and seeing "Nora Ephron" on the rundown, a placeholder for someone, but for whom, no one knew. It wasn't until Allen walked by decked out in his tux that everyone suddenly went, "Oh, shit."

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<p>Jean Dujardin in &quot;The Artist.&quot;</p>

Jean Dujardin in "The Artist."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Watch Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo and Uggie foul up in a blooper reel from 'The Artist'

Reads a lot like a scene from the film itself

Typically blooper reels feature actors breaking out of their created roles. There may be some unforeseen accident on set, a stray boom falling into frame, performers losing their handle on the dialogue (or language in general), unexpected bouts of Tourette syndrome, uncontrolled laughing during the funeral scene or otherwise unusable, though amusing, takes. But it is always clear that, for that moment, Fred Friendly (or whoever the character is) has dropped away and George Clooney (or whichever actor) has reemerged.

What is striking about the blooper reel from Michel Hazanavicius's “The Artist” that Coming Soon made available yesterday is that it is difficult to discern the moment where George Valentin/Peppy Miller disappear and Jean Dujardin/Bérénice Bejo emerge. Sure, when Uggie the dog fails to follow a command, it is obvious that the shot has not gone as planned (it is also more than a little bit adorable). When poor Bejo face plants in the midst of a sequence, we know it wasn’t an “I meant to do that.” But the distinction between actor and character is infinitesimal at best.

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<p>Viola Davis at the 27th annual Santa Barbara International Film&nbsp;Festival</p>

Viola Davis at the 27th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Credit: AP Photo/Michael A. Mariant

Viola Davis talks Steven Soderbergh, Tyler Perry, Meryl Streep and humanizing her characters

The 'Help' star receives Santa Barbara's Outstanding Performer of the Year Award

SANTA BARBARA - The tributes at this year's Santa Barbara Film Festival kicked off with a bang tonight as Viola Davis took the stage at the Arlington Theatre to be fluffed up for her Outstanding Performer of the Year Award. And in my four or five years of attending the festival, it was one of the better productions I've seen.

After Davis's "The Help" co-star Octavia Spencer introduced the actress, my Oscar Talk colleague Anne Thompson served as moderator for the evening -- her first stint in this format, and she did a great job. But Davis also makes it very easy with her organic and incredibly thoughtful responses. Truly, she commands this kind of setting so well, offering up authentic, specific insights into her process as an actress, and not in a sound byte way, but with a kind of matter-of-fact poignancy that really is exceptional. She's "on" in ways other stars only hope to be in such a scenario.

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<p>The cover of Tim McGraw's &quot;Emotional Traffic&quot;</p>
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The cover of Tim McGraw's "Emotional Traffic"

Can Adele make it 18 weeks on the Billboard 200 or does Tim McGraw top her?

Check out the six debuts in next week's top 10

Adele “21” will likely tie Garth Brooks’ “Ropin’ the Wind” next week when the British singer’s sophomore set spends its 18th week atop the Billboard 200 album chart.

Early projections show “21” handily outselling Tim McGraw’s “Emotional Traffic,” and possibly topping 100,000 again. This means that "21" only needs to spend three more weeks at No. 1 to set the record for most weeks at the top in the Nielsen SoundScan era. The "Bodyguard" soundtrack current holds the record at 20.

Following several post-holiday slow release weeks, the chart sees six titles debuting in the Top 10. In addition to “Emotional Traffic,” which will will sell up to 70,000 to bow at No. 2,  metal band Lamb of God’s “Resolution” looks good for No. 3, with sales of around 60,000, according to Hits Daily Double.

The “2012 Grammy Nominees” compilation is right behind Lamb of God for No. 4 with sales of 50,000-55,000. Singer/songwriter Ingrid Michaelson’s “Human Again” will score a top 5 debut, moving around 40,000 copies. 

The other likely Top 10 premieres are former “American Idol” contestant  Kellie Pickler’s “100 Proof” at No. 8 and Christian artist Kari Jobe at No. 9. Both are targeted to sell between 24,000-28,000.

Previously released sets remaining in the top tier are “Kidz Bop Kids 21,” which falls 2-6; Drake’s “Take Care” likely drops 4-7, and Black Keys’ “El Camino” tumbles 3-10.

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<p>Anna Torv and Lance Reddick of &quot;Fringe&quot;</p>
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Anna Torv and Lance Reddick of "Fringe"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'Fringe' - 'Forced Perspective'

Olivia meets a girl who might have clues about The Observer's prophecy
Destiny versus self-determination. That old chestnut reared its head on tonight’s “Fringe” in an episode that essentially put all of its mythology on hold for a Season 1-esque standalone episode. Sure, bits and pieces moved along on the periphery, but this was an examination of two women that felt isolated due to childhood traumas that defined their lives. Putting aside my issues with Season 4 as a whole, was this a good hour of television? “Forced Perspective” was…fine. Perfectly perfunctory. It was also, unfortunately, fairly dull. Forced, you might say.
 
I look back on those Season 1 standalones with a certain fondness now, even if those episodes aren’t particularly good. But they were definitely exercises in cookie-cutter storytelling: “Fringe” had an almost immutable formula within which it worked. Start off with a scene in which something freaky/grotesque happened, put Fringe Division on the scene, have Walter realize what happened was somehow tied into experiments he did with William Bell, and Olivia would save the day in the nick of time. Lather, rinse, repeat.
 
It’s also what passes for continuity these days on FOX as a whole. Look at “Alcatraz,” a show that seems like a complete repudiation of the serialization that blew hardcore “Fringe” fans away even as it sent casual fans fleeing for the hills. If you saw “Touch” this weekend, then you saw a similar approach in which an overarching premise is doled out in morsel-sized bites to invite the unwashed masses to occasionally check in on the series. This isn’t an evil way to produce a television series, but it’s certainly not the most interesting way. “Fringe” embraced serialization, but it also put that on the backburner in favor of character study. The show followed the characters, not the plot.
 
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<p>Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski)&nbsp;in action in the &quot;Chuck&quot;&nbsp;series finale.</p>

Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) in action in the "Chuck" series finale.

Credit: Warner Bros.

Interview: 'Chuck' co-creator Chris Fedak on the series finale

How did the writers decide on endings for Chuck, Sarah, Casey and the rest?
So "Chuck" has come to an end. I reviewed the series finale here, and in addition to my 5-part interview series with Chris Fedak and Josh Schwartz (which Fedak would later joke was "egregiously long"), I got on the phone with Fedak one more time to discuss the events of the finale.
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<p>Chuck (Zachary Levi)&nbsp;and Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski)&nbsp;in the &quot;Chuck&quot;&nbsp;series finale.</p>

Chuck (Zachary Levi) and Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) in the "Chuck" series finale.

Credit: Warner Bros.

Series finale review: 'Chuck' - 'Chuck vs. Sarah/Chuck vs. the Goodbye'

Chuck tries to restore Sarah's stolen memories in a romantic, funny, terrific finale

Well, we're all done with "Chuck." I already published my 5-part retrospective interview with Schwartz and Fedak (and I interviewed Fedak again about the series finale) and my list of great moments in "Chuck" history. All that's left is to review the final two episodes, and that's coming up just as soon as I'm wooed by Midwesterners...

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<p>Zachary Booth and Ira Sachs talk &quot;Keep the Lights On.&quot;</p>

Zachary Booth and Ira Sachs talk "Keep the Lights On."

Watch: Ira Sachs and Zachary Booth on the loud intimacy of 'Keep The Lights On'

Can the indie gay drama find an audience?

PARK CITY - One of the better films I saw at this year's 2012 Sundance Film Festival was Ira Sachs "Keep The Lights On."  The drama about the ups and downs of a gay couples long term relationship as one of them battles a drug addiction and both of them keep secrets from each other was a moving and artistic portrait between two men we have rarely seen on screen.  And yet, I was surprised by how many different reactions there were to the picture in the days following.  While many appreciated it as much as I did, a significant amount of younger viewers didn't seem to get it (perhaps too little life experience?) and others didn't understand the motivations of one character or another.  That could be one explanation why the picture still hasn't been officially acquired out of the festival yet (obviously indie gay films have their limitations at the box office).  It's hard to imagine the film being relegated to just the gay film festival circuit, but stranger things have happened.

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Jean Paul Gaultier's runway show

 Jean Paul Gaultier's runway show

Credit: AP Photo

Do you think Gaultier's Amy Winehouse runway tribute was in bad taste?

The designer is being panned by Winehouse's dad and Kelly Osbourne

The inspiration behind Jean Paul Gaultier's latest collection probably seemed like a good idea at the time -- a tribute to Amy Winehouse, complete with beehive wigs, cat-eye liner and models smoking cigarettes. Unfortunately, Winehouse's dad, Mitch, and  pal Kelly Osbourne were not amused, according to People magazine and E! 

Mitch Winehouse slammed the designer for portraying a "view of Amy when she was not at her best," while Osbourne said she found the collection to be "lucratively selfish and distasteful." 

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<p>&quot;Who me? Oh I was just standing here plotting a comeback.&quot;</p>

"Who me? Oh I was just standing here plotting a comeback."

Watch: D'Angelo makes first concert appearance in a decade, debuts new songs

'The Charade' and 'Sugar Day' wedged between 'Chicken Grease'

R&B crooner D'Angelo celebrated the 12-year anniversary of "Voodoo" in a big way. For the first time in more than a decade, he took to the stage this week, at Stockholm's Filadelfiakyrkan church. Of course, Filadelfiakyrkan!

He performed beloved tracks like "Sh*t, Damn, Motherf*cker" and "Chicken Grease." The even bigger news is that he bowed two new songs: "The Charade" and "Sugar Day."

Check out those songs below.

The Roots' ?uestlove previously alluded to the fact that D'Angelo would be back into action this year, with a new album. Then there was that whole Soundgarden "Black Holed Sun" cover, and the announcement of forthcoming rare tour dates.

It's all very weird. I feel like I'm floating, and that I'm 18 again.

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