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<p>James D'Arcy and Andrea Riseborough in &quot;W.E.&quot;</p>

James D'Arcy and Andrea Riseborough in "W.E."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Oscar Guide 2011: Best Costume Design

'Anonymous,' 'The Artist,' 'Hugo,' 'Jane Eyre' and 'W.E.' square off

(The Oscar Guide will be your chaperone through the Academy's 24 categories awarding excellence in film. A new installment will hit every weekday in the run-up to the Oscars on February 26, with the Best Picture finale on Saturday, February 25.)

If there’s one technical branch in the Academy that can be trusted above all others to prioritize the craft ahead of the film, it’s the costume designers: where others often merely check off consensus frontrunners, they routinely single out outstandingly costumed films with little to no buzz in any other race, whether it’s as highbrow as “I Am Love” or as downright dodgy as “Troy.”

They’ve certainly lived up to that reputation this year. Not only are three of the five nominees listed in this category alone, but two of them were widely panned by critics: nominating them seems a subtle assertion of independence on the voters’ part, particularly when they had the safer option of nominating less distinctive period garb from Best Picture nominees like “Midnight in Paris” and Costume Designers’ Guild nominee “The Help.” As is stands, only four of the Guild’s choices made the cut, as the Academy came to the rescue of arguably the baitiest threads of the bunch.

The nominees are...

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<p>Jason Mraz in &quot;I Won't Give Up&quot;</p>

Jason Mraz in "I Won't Give Up"

Today in New Music Videos: Jason Mraz, Lil Jon, Nas, Atmosphere

Red solo cups. Everywhere. Plus: Tyga, The Drums, K'Naan and more

Solo cups, the Toronto thug life, wolves and a tear-jerker: Here is a sampling of music videos floating around today, from Jason Mraz, The Drums, Lil Jon, Tyga and Atmosphere.

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Credit: AP Photo

Watch: Skrillex explains what lost boys do when they grow up in 'Bangarang'

Captain Hook has all the ice cream in Grammy winner's newest music video

How did Captain Hook get his hook? Skrillex has some idea.

The recent Grammy Award winner has released the music video for the title track to his brand new EP "Bangarang," and not only do things go bang: they go boom.

Lost Boys take the shape of the nasty neighborhood trouble-making kid-gang, those damn kids who kicked the back of your seat on the bus (cut it out). The local ice cream man -- who is, by the way, evil, because he eats too much ice cream and has a mustache -- is then hoodwinked by the crew. Fast-forward through some morally questionable upbringing, and you have all the handsome stars from your favorite new action film.

It's an entertaining spin on an old tale, though the violence may have you questioning your own sympathies for the ol' Hook Hand.

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<p>Promotional artwork for &quot;Iris:&nbsp;A&nbsp;Journey Through the World of Cinema&quot;</p>

Promotional artwork for "Iris: A Journey Through the World of Cinema"

Credit: Cirque du Soleil

84th Oscarcast beginning to take shape

Slowly emerging details indicate a self-reverential theme

Earlier this week, Michael Cieply wrote a thorough enough piece at The New York Times explaining what we know, but mostly what we don't know, about the upcoming Oscar telecast.

Typically by this time, we have things like stage sketches and quotes from the producers expressing various intents with the annual broadcast by this time. This year? Not so much (though it was announced they'd be yanking the original song performances).

In the wake of Ratnergate, perhaps the Academy has felt it better to just keep its head down, push through and get on the other side of things without drawing a lot of attention to the process. But producers Brian Grazer and Don Mischer "have been conspicuously silent on [the show's] themes, challenges and the presumably fresh approach they will take," Cieply writes. Nevertheless, some things are now beginning to bubble up.

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Blink-182 celebrates 20th anniversary with tour

What's our age again?

May we be the 1000th person to say, “What’s my age again?” in reference to today’s news that Blink-182 will embark on a 20th anniversary tour this year.

Could it really be 20 years ago? The perpetual adolescents, some of whom are daddies now, will hit the road to celebrate two decades of arrested development on May 15 at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y., according to

The tour, will include stops at NJ’s Bamboozle fest, but so far most of the dates are in Europe.

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<p>Ricky Gervais and Warwick Davis in &quot;Life's Too Short.&quot;</p>

Ricky Gervais and Warwick Davis in "Life's Too Short."

Credit: HBO

Review: Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's 'Life's Too Short' comes to HBO

'The Office' duo underwhelm with yet another celebrity-related mockumentary
When Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's showbiz satire "Extras" was coming to the end of its second and final season on HBO, Gervais told me that he felt he and Merchant had, between that show and the original "The Office," done as much as they could with the notion of people who will do anything to be famous.
"We're never going to do anything to do with media again," he told me, explaining that they were probably going to be done with it after "The Office," until they realized their newfound celebrity gave them a chance to do one more story on a higher level featuring cameos from their new pals. "It seemed right. We were fresh to it and we thought we had a fresh approach to it. We never would have done it if we couldn't find a new angle. There's no point in telling someone something twice. It's worth exploring the same themes -- relationships, wasting your life -- all of those things are worth because they're fundamental. It's not like humans have moved on, you know, 'We're going to give up relationships.' But we've pretty much, that's our Picasso blue period -- that's our fame period."
As it turned out, Gervais and Merchant weren't quite done with their fame period, after all. That second season of "Extras" was followed by a Christmas special that repeated some of the satiric points they had made on in the regular episodes, albeit at greater length and with more of a dramatic bent. And now the two have created "Life's Too Short," yet another mockumentary about a man — little person actor Warwick Davis (the lead Ewok in "Return of the Jedi" and Professor Flitwick in the Harry Potter films, among other roles), playing a debased version of himself — willing to suffer endless humiliation to hang onto his incredibly modest level of celebrity. (The first season already aired in the UK, and it debuts Sunday night at 10:30 on HBO.)
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<p>Chris Brown in &quot;Turn Up the Music&quot;</p>

Chris Brown in "Turn Up the Music"

Watch: Chris Brown says 'Turn Up the Music' in dance-heavy music video

Party Animals, shirtlessness, a cane and goodwill

Whether you like it or not, it's been a week of Chris Brown. From his controversial, multiple appearances at the Grammy Awards to rumors of his extremely unfunny pickup line to anonymous sources confirming he'll be on Rihnna's "Birthday Cake" to his bratty deleted Tweets, the rapper/R&B singer has been popping up.

And trying to break out. Again. And "Turn Up the Music" will help.

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Dave Grohl
Dave Grohl
Credit: AP Photo

Read Dave Grohl's fun 'clarification' of his Grammy acceptance speech

We can all fit under this big musical tent, says Dave

The Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl’s acceptance speech at the 54th annual Grammys, which boiled down to “keep it real,” has been repeated and shared millions of times since then and praised for words from a true rock and roll believer.  But it has also been pounced on by folks who felt he was dissing basically everyone else who makes music, especially those who use a computer to do it.

So today, Grohl, who as readers know, is not just one of my favorite musicians, but he is, as you might imagine, a great interview, felt the need to clarify—and amplify upon—his speech. And he threw in cultural references to a Clint Eastwood movie and a Van Halen song to boot. It's very amusing and a fun read, but it makes us sad that what was truly a wonderful moment of self expression at the Grammys turned  him into a lightning rod for criticism.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Piggy and the frog</p>

Piggy and the frog

Credit: Disney

Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy will present at the Oscars

However, the Muppets won't be performing best original song nominee

All those Twitter campaigns and pleads to the Academy to choose The Muppets as the hosts of this year's Oscar telecast have paid off, sort of. The Muppets may not be hosting the Oscars (it's still Billy Crystal), but Hollywood's premier power couple -- Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy -- will appear onstage together to present an award.

They join the company of such previously announced presenters as Tom Cruise, Halle Berry, Ben Stiller, Emma Stone, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lopez, Chris Rock, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Bradley Cooper and the cast of "Bridesmaids."

Stars of the original "Muppet Show" and multiple films, Kermit and Piggy's careers were rejuvenated this year with the commercial and critical favorite "The Muppets," co-starring Amy Adams, Chris Cooper and co-writer Jason Segel ("How I Met Your Mother").

The film has one Oscar nomination, in the Original Song category -- and since there are only two nominees (the other is "Real in Rio" from "Rio"), it has a good chance of winning. However, we won't be seeing the gang sing "Man or Muppet" this year, as the show no longer features performances of the nominated songs. Which is a great shame, as it would have been pretty awesome to see the Muppets perform the tune with songwriter/"Flight of the Conchords" star Bret McKenzie.

The Academy Awards air live Sunday, February 26 on ABC.

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Oscar Talk: Ep. 82 -- BAFTA winners, live action and documentary shorts

Oscar Talk: Ep. 82 -- BAFTA winners, live action and documentary shorts

Also: Is there really much of a race between Meryl and Viola?

Welcome to Oscar Talk.

In case you're new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is a weekly kudocast, your one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is weekly, every Friday throughout the season, charting the ups and downs of contenders along the way. Plenty of things change en route to Oscar's stage and we're here to address it all as it unfolds.

The penultimate podcast of the precursor season is here. With just a little over a week to go before the Oscars finally put a definitive bow on 2011, we're feeling the end upon us. But there are things to address in the final build-up, so let's see what's on the docket today...

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<p>Meryl Streep accepting her Honorary Golden Bear at the 2012 Berlin Film Festival.</p>

Meryl Streep accepting her Honorary Golden Bear at the 2012 Berlin Film Festival.

Credit: AP Photo/Markus Schreiber

Round-up: Streep saluted at the Berlinale

Also: Missing 2D 'Titanic,' and why isn't Williams the Best Actress frontrunner?

Whether she wins her third Oscar or not, even Meryl Streep's most impassioned advocates would be hard pressed to say the actress has been underappreciated in a season that has added an eight Golden Globe, a fifth New York critics' award, a second BAFTA and, this week, an Honorary Golden Bear from the Berlinale to her already groaning mantel. Unfortunately, I didn't get to attend the Streep presentation at Berlin -- it's indicative of how busy the festival is that I didn't even hear any reports from it until today. Accepting the award from festival juror Jake Gyllenhaal, it seems she was in typically fun form, declaring herself "overrated" and repeating her gracious Globes trick of singling out other standout female performances from 2012, this time name-checking Anna Paquin and Olivia Colman. As if we needed more reasons to love her. [24 Frames]  

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<p>&quot;The Simpsons&quot;&nbsp;as they looked nearly 500 episodes ago.</p>

"The Simpsons" as they looked nearly 500 episodes ago.

Credit: FOX

Best. Episode. Ever? Pick your 'Simpsons' favorite

As the show prepares to air its 500th episode, what's the one you love best?

"The Simpsons" airs its 500th episode this Sunday night. "At Long Last Leave," like many latter-day "Simpsons" outings, features a story we've seen variations on several times before (including in "The Simpsons Movie"), but also features many funny jokes that affirm my belief that I'm happier to live in a world that keeps giving us new "Simpsons" episodes (especially when they are occasionally as great as "Holidays of Future Passed") than I will be in the one where that inevitably stops. The couch gag in particular is marvelous, and actually made me choke up a bit. 

The show has been on so long, has passed so many anniversaries, that I've run out of deep thoughts to say about the series at this latest milestone. So instead, I will borrow a suggestion from Time's Jame Poniewozik, who took the occasion of the 500th episode to both declare his own favorite "Simpsons" episode ever ("Homer's Enemy," which I've never liked) and to invite viewers to do the same.

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