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<p><span style="color: rgb(62, 62, 62); font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 11px; text-align: left; background-color: rgb(253, 253, 253); ">Kirsten Dunst in &quot;Melancholia,&quot; which won Best Picture and Best Actress from the National Society of Film Critics.&nbsp;</span></p>

Kirsten Dunst in "Melancholia," which won Best Picture and Best Actress from the National Society of Film Critics. 

Credit: Magnolia Pictures

'Melancholia,' Dunst and Pitt among National Society of Film Critics winners

'Tree of Life' close runner-up for Best Picture, takes Best Director

God love the National Society of Film Critics. More often than not, you can count on them to go their own way on the precursor trail -- and they did so in defiant fashion today, becoming the first major critics' group to single out Lars von Trier's "Melancholia" as the year's best, handing star Kirsten Dunst the Best Actress prize into the bargain. (It's Dunst's first win since her Cannes trophy, and not a moment too soon; look out for my interview with her on Monday.) It's the second time the group has stood up for von Trier in this way -- 15 years ago, they gave "Breaking the Waves" the same two awards.

As if to underline their independence from the Oscar conversation, their runner-up picks were also decidedly dark horses: "The Tree of Life" (which lost the Best Picture race by a single point, but won Best Director and Best Cinematography to make up for it) and "A Separation," which won the foreign-language race by a landslide and also took its second major critics' prize in the Best Screenplay category. (The LA Critics reached the same conclusion last month -- could the Academy's writers' branch take notice?)

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National Society of Film Critics picks Lars Von Trier's 'Melancholia'

Kirsten Dunst and Brad Pitt nab acting awards

"Melancholia," Lars Von Trier's allegorical film about the end of the world, was named best picture by the influential National Society of Film Critics, beating out "Tree of Life" and Iran's "A Separation." 

The film's star, Kirsten Dunst, also walked away with the title of Best Actress, handily defeating "Poetry's" Yun Jung-Hee and awards magnet Meryl Streep ("The Iron Lady"). Brad Pitt won the Best Actor award, for his work in "Moneyball" and "Tree of Life."

"Drive's" Albert Brooks was named in the Best Supporting Actor section for his sinister, against-type turn, while Jessica Chastain was honored for her roles in "Tree of Life," "Take Shelter" and "The Help." Best Director went to "Tree of Life" helmer Terrence Malick. 

Last year, the NSFC (which includes critics from major publications all over the U.S.) chose "The Social Network" as the top film, with "The Hurt Locker" getting the honor in 2009. 

Here’s the full list of this year's winners:


*1. Brad Pitt – 35 (Moneyball, The Tree Of Life)
2. Gary Oldman – 22 (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)
3. Jean Dujardin – 19 (The Artist)

*1. Kirsten Dunst – 39 (Melancholia)
2. Yun Jung-hee – 25 (Poetry)
3. Meryl Streep – 20 (The Iron Lady)

*1. Albert Brooks – 38 (Drive)
2. Christopher Plummer – 24 (Beginners)
3. Patton Oswalt – 19 (Young Adult)

*1. Jessica Chastain – 30 (The Tree Of Life, Take Shelter, The Help)
2. Jeannie Berlin – 19 (Margaret)
3. Shailene Woodley – 17 (The Descendants)

*1. Melancholia – 29 (Lars von Trier)
2. The Tree Of Life – 28 (Terrence Malick)
3. A Separation – 20 (Asghar Farhadi)

*1. Terrence Malick – 31 (The Tree Of Life)
2. Martin Scorsese – 29 (Hugo)
3. Lars von Trier – 23 (Melancholia)

*1. Cave Of Forgotten Dreams – 35 (Werner Herzog)
2. The Interrupters – 26 (Steve James)
3. Into The Abyss – 18 (Werner Herzog)

*1. A Separation – 39 (Asghar Farhadi)
2. Moneyball – 22 (Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin)
3. Midnight In Paris – 16 (Woody Allen)

*1. A Separation – 67 (Asghar Farhadi)
2. Mysteries Of Lisbon – 28 (Raoul Ruiz)
3. Le Havre – 22 (Aki Kaurismäki)

*1. The Tree Of Life – 76 (Emanuel Lubezki)
2. Melancholia – 41 (Manuel Alberto Claro)
3. Hugo – 33 (Robert Richardson)

Ken Jacobs, Seeking The Monkey King


1. BAMcinématek for its complete Vincente Minnelli retrospective with all titles shown on 16 mm. or 35 mm. film.
2. Lobster Films, Groupama Gan Foundation for Cinema and the Technicolor Foundation for Cinema for the restoration of the color version of George Méliès’s “A Trip to the Moon.”
3. New York’s Museum of Modern Art for its extensive retrospective of Weimar Cinema.
4. Flicker Alley for their box set Landmarks Of Early Soviet Film.
5. Criterion Collecton for its 2-disc DVD package The Complete Jean Vigo.


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"Bethenny Ever After"

 "Bethenny Ever After"

Credit: Bravo

Press Tour: Bethenny Frankel talks marriage trouble, Jill Zarin squabble

The former 'Real Housewives' star wants to show "honest" reality

Bethenny Frankel may have sold her Skinny Girl cocktails brand for $120 million last year, but the former "Real Housewives of New York" star isn't relaxing with her newfound wealth. Her Bravo series "Bethenny Ever After" will be returning for a third season, and the self-made woman discussed her decision to come back to the airwaves during a press tour panel. "I have a relationship with Bravo and we've been working together for years, and there were some things I still wanted to say to my fans," she said. "It's certainly not about the paycheck. It's about the message." Frankel maintained that, while "in reality TV, [reality] isn't always the case," honesty is her only policy. "It's about showing people what's really going on, warts and all."

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<p>Nick Offerman wrote an upcoming &quot;Parks and Recreation&quot;&nbsp;episode.</p>

Nick Offerman wrote an upcoming "Parks and Recreation" episode.

Credit: NBC

Interview: Nick Offerman on writing a 'Parks and Recreation' script

Which of Ron Swanson's co-workers did he most enjoy writing for?
At NBC's press tour party last night, I ran into Nick Offerman from "Parks and Recreation," who mentioned that he had written an upcoming episode for the show (the 18th out of 22 for the season). Given that Offerman, like Ron Effing Swanson, seems to be superhumanly competent at everything else, the idea of him writing a script for the show intrigued me. So we talked for a few minutes about how this happened, his writing experience, his secret dreams for writing Ron Swanson, and which other character he most enjoyed writing for.
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<p>That's our Billy.</p>

That's our Billy.

Watch: Funny or Die uses Megan Fox to bring Billy Crystal back to Oscar

Has everyone forgotten about Eddie Murphy already?

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences teamed up with Funny or Die to create the first promo for this year's 84th Academy Awards which debuted today online.  Not surprisingly, it centers on the search for this year's host, the legendary Billy Crystal. 

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<p>Adele's &quot;21&quot;</p>
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Adele's "21"

Will Adele make it 15 weeks atop the Billboard 200?

Rihanna, Nickelback and Drake stay in the top 10

Adele’s success continues as “21” is poised to spend its 15th week at No. 1 on next week’s Billboard 200.

With projected sales of up to 130,000 copies, “21” is far ahead of Drake’s “Take Care,” which will likely stay at No. 2 with 50,000 units.  Most of the titles from this week’s Billboard 200 Top 10 stay firmly entrenched in the upper tier although there’s some shifting of positions. Young Jeezy’s “TM 103: Hustler Ambition” likely falls one spot to No. 4, as Black Keys’ “El Camino” rises four spots to No. 3 with sales of 45,000.

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<p>Lauren Alaina</p>
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Lauren Alaina

Credit: FOX

Watch: 'American Idol's' Lauren Alaina shows off her 'Georgia Peaches'

She struts her stuff in new video

“American Idol” Season 10 runner-up Lauren Alaina struts her way through the new video for her second single, “Georgia Peaches.” The bona-fide peach —she’s from Rossville, Ga.—is also eager to show off her taut tummy in a midriff-bearing shirt.

Flanked by her BFFs, she heads into a diner to celebrate her southern sassiness. Not much happens other than a bus boy, dressed in a white outfit and hat out of the ‘50s, takes over the aisle between the booths to burst into a semi-break dance.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Josh Lucas of &quot;The Firm&quot;</p>
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Josh Lucas of "The Firm"

Credit: NBC

Press Tour: NBC's 'Firm' team goes on the plot-hole defensive

The answers to your potential Josh Lucas drama quibbles...

 John Grisham's "The Film" and the subsequent Sydney Pollack film were viewed as a beach read and a consummate piece of popcorn entertainment and both were approached with only the most casual eye toward logic or accuracy. 

Somehow, though, the team behind NBC's new "10 years later..." series follow-up to "The Firm" arrived at the Television Critics Association press tour on Friday (January 6) morning and faced a slew of logistical and narrative questions that boiled down to variations on the "What the heck sense does...mean?"
Fortunately, series developer and executive producer Lukas Reiter was prepared to enter into a discussion on the salient points under contention.
Click through for Reiter and his stars' answers to some important questions. They do include some minor spoilers, but not of anything that that hasn't already been spoiled in NBC's teasers for the show. You can either check out the responses now, or perhaps on Sunday night after tuning in to the two-hour pilot.
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<p>On &quot;Chuck,&quot;&nbsp;Casey (Adam Baldwin)&nbsp;doesn't appreciate Verbanski's gift.</p>

On "Chuck," Casey (Adam Baldwin) doesn't appreciate Verbanski's gift.

Credit: NBC

'Chuck' - 'Chuck vs. the Kept Man': The spy who cared for me

Verbanski returns for Casey, Sarah has a scare, and Jeffster are onto something
A review of tonight's "Chuck" coming up just as soon as I drop some bombs on Edwardian convention...
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"Off Their Rockers"

 "Off Their Rockers"

Credit: NBC

Press Tour: Betty White talks senior pranks and 'Off Their Rockers'

The 89-year-old explains why sex in the golden years is "pretty funny"

Betty White may be the hardest working woman in show business right now -- and surely is the hardest working 89-year-old. White's latest project, which she promoted during NBC's first day of press tour, is "Betty White's Off Their Rockers," a reality show featuring senior citizens pulling pranks on young whippersnappers which debuts Mon. Jan. 16 at 9:30 p.m. Over breakfast with reporters, White talked about senior humor, flirting and turning 90 (NBC will be airing a tribute special for that landmark on Jan. 16 as well).

As to why she's enthusiastic about a show promoting old people as pranksters, White said, "Don't sell them short. They're just hip enough and maybe mean enough to want to get even. So I think it's just kind of a reverse psychology to the poor, old senior. It's 'Hey, we've got a sense of humor, warped as it may be.'"

Warped, maybe, but White will not allow the show to be cruel. "My only functionality in the production is to be sure it's not mean-spirited," she said. "Things aren't funny if it's mean-spirited. Sometimes I think the comedy gets a little banana peel comedy. You laugh at somebody slipping on a banana peel instead of an intellectual joke. It's not that kind of show. It's just a silly, fun show."

Though NBC will be paying tribute to White for her 90th birthday (the special airs before the actual event on Jan. 17), White isn't overly enthusiastic about adding another candle to her cake. "Everybody is celebrating it for me," she says. "And they're all saying, 'Oh my goodness! You're 90!' And I keep trying to explain, 'Don't give me any credit. I didn't do anything to get to be 90. It just happened. I didn't accomplish anything. It just came up on me.' While she won't be running a 10k to celebrate, she did admit, "I might go out and have a little vodka on the rocks."

She also joked about her busy work schedule. "I have a wonderful agent. He's my good buddy and a fine agent, and his perspective is much better than my own. So when he brings me stuff, I say yes. If I don't, he beats me."

She also quipped about her new show's take on sex in the golden years. When asked why senior sex is so funny, she said, "Look at yourself. If you had a sense of humor you would laugh to beat the band. Sex is pretty funny, let's face it. And the more seriously we take ourselves, the funnier sex gets, I think."

The ebullient White did take a moment to take things seriously, however. When asked her biggest regret, she said, "I have a major regret, that Allen Ludden (her late husband) isn't with me."

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<p>of Montreal</p>

of Montreal

Credit: Polyvinyl

Listen: of Montreal does a good Steely Dan on 'Dour Percentage'

Track arrives ahead of new album release, 'Paralytic Stalks'

of Montreal have prepped their eighth album in 10 years, "Paralytic Stalks," and now a month out from its release have another taste from the set.

"Dour Percentage" is at least 50 percent Steely Dan, though the band has never shied away from those 7ths and 9ths and unabashed '70s pop sound. Kevin Barnes' bouncy voice remains strong as always. Stream and download of Montreal's "Dour Percentage" below.

You can also check out "Wintered Debts" on the band's website.

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"Fashion Star"

"Fashion Star"

Credit: NBC

Press Tour: NBC's 'Fashion Star' puts a flashy, celeb spin on design

Big stars and big stores hope to outshine 'Project Runway'

In an effort to outshine defector "Project Runway" (which hopped from NBC-owned Bravo to Lifetime), NBC unveiled "Fashion Star" at a panel during the network's first press tour day. Big and splashy where "Project Runway" is comparatively subtle, the show allows buyers from three different stores (H&M, Saks and Macy's) to bid on outfits by fledgling designers while big brand celebrities (Nicole Richie, Jessica Simpson and Elle Macpherson) act as mentors. The most significant difference with "Fashion Star," however, might be a boon to consumers. "One thing that was important to us in creating this is, it was as much about shopping as it is about fashion," said Macpherson, who is also an executive producer and host. "We wanted to capitalize on the technology that could make that happen."

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