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<p>Janet McTeer received her second Oscar nomination for her role in &quot;Albert Nobbs.&quot;</p>

Janet McTeer received her second Oscar nomination for her role in "Albert Nobbs."

Credit: Roadside Attractions

Oscar Guide 2011: Best Supporting Actress

Bejo, Chastain, McCarthy, McTeer and Spencer face 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.)

After seeming an excitingly scattered race for much of the season, Best Supporting Actress solidified with curious rapidity in the weeks leading up to the nominations. By the time ballots were in, only six names were seriously in contention for a slot -- and as we predicted, a strong Best Picture vehicle wasn't enough to get SAG-snubbed 20 year-old Shailene Woodley across the line.

What we have is a respectable if not terribly enterprising selection of performances, with one broad turn in a summer comedy smash crashing the polite prestige party, one seasoned British stage vet preventing a complete slate of first-time nominees, one pair of twin turns from the same film (for a fourth year running) and -- strangely -- two unrelated performances that both hinge on a scatalogical plot point. Shit happens.  

The nominees are...

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<p>A scene from &quot;Rio,&quot; one of only two nominees this year for Best Original Song.</p>

A scene from "Rio," one of only two nominees this year for Best Original Song.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Round-up: Playing off the Academy's music branch

Also: Ebert on Farhadi, and the geography of Oscar

Year after year, the Academy's music branch finds new and inventive ways to dismay fans and pundits alike, and they were on rare form this year: from disqualifying Cliff Martinez's acclaimed original score for "Drive" on a vague technicality to somehow finding only two nominees for Best Original Song (a record low), they made it clear to all observers that both their qualifying and voting rules are in sore need of tuning. Joe Reid offers a pointed but cool-headed diagnosis of just what's gone wrong in the music races, criticizing the grading process that allows branch members to effectively vote against songs, while allowing that movie songs are no longer "part of the fabric of American pop music." And I heartily co-sign his Best Adapted Score suggestion. [NPR]

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<p>Writer-director-star Ma&iuml;wenn in &quot;Polisse.&quot;</p>

Writer-director-star Maïwenn in "Polisse."

Credit: Sundance Selects

'The Artist' isn't top dog in César Award noms

Another Cannes winner, 'Polisse,' leads with 13 nods

It may be the first French frontrunner in the history of the Academy Awards, but on home turf, "The Artist" had to settle for third place in the César Award nominations. Michel Hazanavicius's awards-guzzler landed a robust 10 nominations in the so-called French Oscars, but the top tally went to another Cannes prizewinner, actress-turned-filmmaker Maïwenn's sprawling law-enforcement drama "Polisse," with 13. "The Minister," a complex political drama that won acclaim in Un Certain Regard at Cannes but doesn't seem to have much travel potential, took 11 nods.

Of course, it's not an entirely fair fight. With its vast ensemble cast, Maïwenn's film was always going to have a numerical advantage: seven of its nominations are in the acting categories. Still, I wouldn't be surprised to see "Polisse" trip up the "Artist" juggernaut at home: more envious César voters may feel inclined to take the international phenomenon down a peg or two, and they'd in turn feel noble rewarding the tough topicality of "Polisse," a study of personal and professional tensions in the Paris police department's Child Protection Unit. 

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<p>Nicole Richie vs. Yvonne Strahovski was one of many memorable &quot;Chuck&quot;&nbsp;fight scenes.</p>

Nicole Richie vs. Yvonne Strahovski was one of many memorable "Chuck" fight scenes.

Credit: NBC

'Chuck' vs. the Greatest Hits: Best moments in the show's history

Shower fights and Jeffster! songs and so much more

In case you've missed the frequent references in my just-completed 5-part interview with Fedak and Schwartz, "Chuck" airs its honest-to-goodness 2-hour series finale tonight at 8. I'll have a review of the finale, and a final post-mortem with Fedak, both up at 10 Eastern, but I couldn't resist doing one more "Chuck" post before then, this time looking back at some of my favorite moments from 5 seasons of this silly, sweet, awesome show. 

I started off wanting to stick to an even 10, then was willing to throw in as many as I could think of, before deciding I couldn't spend the whole week scouring YouTube and Hulu. (And note that many of the YouTube clips I wound up choosing wouldn't allow embedding, so you'll have to watch those over there.) These aren't every one of my favorite moments (for instance, I couldn't find a clip of Chuck and the bad guy chasing each other through the Gravitron), but they're enough to capture the many flavors and moods, the majesty and the absurdity of that thing that Fedak liked to call "the 'Chuck' show." 

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<p>Kelsey Grammer was terrific on last night's first &quot;30 Rock.&quot;</p>

Kelsey Grammer was terrific on last night's first "30 Rock."

Credit: NBC

Review: '30 Rock' - 'Idiots Are People Three!/The Ballad of Kenneth Parcell'

Kelsey Grammer, Denise Richards and the Phillie Phanatic help both episodes score big laughs

Because "30 Rock" premiered at mid-season but had a full season order, from time to time we'll get nights like last night with back-to-back episodes, and I have a review of both coming up just as soon as I care about locally-sourced pig sweepings...

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<p>Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski), Chuck (Zachary Levi)&nbsp;and Casey (Adam Baldwin)&nbsp;went freelance in the final &quot;Chuck&quot;&nbsp;season.</p>
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Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski), Chuck (Zachary Levi) and Casey (Adam Baldwin) went freelance in the final "Chuck" season.

Credit: NBC

'Chuck' vs. the Retrospective Interview, Part 5

Morgan gets the Intersect, Casey gets a girlfriend, and the show gets a finale
"Chuck" airs its last two episodes ever tonight at 8 and 9 on NBC, and that means we've come to the conclusion of the long interview I did with the show's co-creator, Chris Fedak (and, in previous installments, with Josh Schwartz as well).
In part 5, we look at how Morgan as the Intersect worked out, at the introduction of Carrie-Anne Moss as Gertrude Verbanski, the revelation of the season's big villain, and more.
I'll have a review of the finale up tonight at 10 Eastern, along with one last Fedak interview, this time discussing what goes down in the finale.
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<p>Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Irons in &quot;The Words.&quot;</p>

Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Irons in "The Words."

Credit: CBS Films

Is the Sundance Film Festival's Oscar run officially over?

2012 is turning out to be another weak year for Academy Awards contenders

PARK CITY - It's been quite common over the past few years to receive a press release from the Sundance Film Festival congratulating the just announced Oscar nominees who debuted or screened their films at the previous edition of the festival. Impressively, the list of nominees was growing and including bigger and bigger categories almost every year.  What once was just some nominations in the documentary short category had grown to best actor, best original screenplay and - gasp - best picture.

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<p>Diane Keaton in&nbsp;&quot;Darling Companion&quot;</p>

Diane Keaton in "Darling Companion"

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

SBIFF raises the curtain on the 27th annual

Honorees will include Viola Davis, Christopher Plummer and Martin Scorsese

SANTA BARBARA - The 27th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival kicked off tonight with the world premiere of Lawrence Kasdan's "Darling Companion," starring Diane Keaton and Kevin Kline. Unfortunately I couldn't make it down in time to catch it, but I'm here now and ready for a few days of awards season awareness.

The Santa Barbara fest smartly positioned itself a number of years back as a destination for Oscar contenders. Being the biggest phase two exposure of that sort, the festival's profile has sky-rocketed since Roger Durling took over executive director duties some time ago, adding lengthy tributes scattered throughout the fest as well as the Kirk Douglas Award (which is handed out every October at a private dinner -- this year's recipient was Michael Douglas). This year, a number of Oscar nominees will be appearing at the fest to have a little love thrown their way.

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<p>One of the Texas auditioners on Thursday night's &quot;American Idol&quot;</p>
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One of the Texas auditioners on Thursday night's "American Idol"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'American Idol' Texas Auditions - Live-Blog

Were the stars tonight big and bright deep in the heart of Texas?

So what have I missed, y'all? It seems like a dozen months ago that I recapped the "American Idol" premiere and then the Sundance Film Festival began.

I assume you've been keeping up with Liane Bonin Starr's "Idol" recaps in my absence, while also keeping up with all of my Sundance coverage... 


I know I'm live-blogging on West Coast Time tonight, but let's get going with Thursday's (Jan. 26) auditions from Texas...

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"Project Runway"

 "Project Runway"

Credit: Lifetime Television

Recap: 'Project Runway' - 'Good Taste Tastes Good'

The designers get to meet their idol - but only get six hours to work

We're down to the last ten designers, though I'm sure we're not down to our last wacky-ass design challenge. It seems that each week the designers are put through the paces for our amusement, but with little opportunity to highlight their actual skills. I guess making these guys show us how they can create evening gowns for Muppets or constructed from plastic knives or while wearing blindfolds makes things easier for the judges (she sent a model down the runway naked - she's out!), I'm not sure it's determining who's the best designer. But then, I guess reality TV doesn't really give a crap about that, anyway. 

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<p>Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer in &quot;The Help.&quot;</p>

Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer in "The Help."

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Predicting Sunday's SAG Awards

Could 'The Help' have its biggest night of the season?

Positioned almost a month away from the Academy Awards ceremony, the Screen Actors' Guild Awards are frequently something of a buzzkill in the Oscar race -- not because they don't make for a perfectly entertaining evening in themselves, but because they have a nasty habit of sealing up the competition in a number of categories, making life rather dull for attentive awards-watchers.

A certain degree of overlap with the Academy membership makes their routine foreshadowing of the acting Oscar winners -- in the 17-year history of the awards, nearly 70% of the performances honored by SAG went on to take the big prize -- inevitable, though since the awards calendar was reshuffled a few years ago, they tend to answer some questions in the race a bit too early. With this year's acting races already showing little wiggle room, don't count on the Guild to open things up.

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<p>Leslie (Amy Poehler)&nbsp;shows off her bowling skills on &quot;Parks and Recreation.&quot;</p>

Leslie (Amy Poehler) shows off her bowling skills on "Parks and Recreation."

Credit: NBC

'Parks and Recreation' - 'Bowling for Votes': The perfect game

Leslie overreacts to a slight, April tries to crush Chris and Tom schools Ron

A review of tonight's "Parks and Recreation" coming up just as soon as I find an octagonal house...

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