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<p>Antony Starr in &quot;Banshee.&quot;</p>

Antony Starr in "Banshee."

Credit: Cinemax

Review: Cinemax takes a step back with 'Banshee'

A crook impersonates a cop in a low-wattage pulp thriller

I like to say of "Strike Back" that the show is better than it needs to be. Given the Cinemax brand, all it really had to offer was guns and breasts and it was going to get some kind of audience, but the show goes a lot deeper than that, and is executed on a much higher level than I might have expected. And though the channel's second series, "Hunted," had some plotting issues, it also had ambition and atmosphere and strong performances.

"Banshee," on the other hand, feels exactly like what I pictured when I first heard that Cinemax was getting into the scripted drama game — and not just because its main character leaves prison and has sex with a naked woman within the pilot's first 90 seconds. It's pulp fiction, but hampered by its leading man's limitations and some odd choices along the way.

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<p>Ke$ha's C'Mon</p>

Ke$ha's C'Mon

Watch: Ke$ha and her furry friends wreak havoc in 'C'mon' video

Wayward waitress time travels back to the '70s

Ke$ha’s obviously never heard the rule about not getting into a car with strangers.

Luckily it all works out OK. There are no unicorns, but Ke$ha still manages to bring on the trippy fun in her video for “C’mon," her new single from "Warrior."

After quitting her job as a waitress as the “Awful House” dinner, she hops into a makeshift version of what looks like the Scoobymobile and time travels back to the ‘70s (or so it seems given the presence of an 8-Track player, the clothes and the headbands. But she’s not alone. She has all kinds of full-size furry animals, including a rabbit and an owl, with her. She rescues them from their homeless ways and somehow loses her pants along the way. But no worries, she doesn't need pants where she's going.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone announce the nominees for the 85th Academy Awards.</p>

Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone announce the nominees for the 85th Academy Awards.

Credit: AP Photo/Chris PIzzello

Which HitFix Awards Pundit rules them all?

Bragging rights until Oscar night on the line...

For the first time since In Contention first teamed up with HitFix in October of 2011, Kris Tapley, Guy Lodge and I posted our Oscar nominations side by side for comparison's sake. There were a couple of easy takeaways.

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"Project Runway All Stars"

 "Project Runway All Stars"

Credit: Lifetime

'Project Runway: All Stars' recap: 'Couture De France'

The final four head to Paris and the House of Valentino

Okay, guys, I'm bringing this to you a little late as I'm in the thick of TCA press tour madness, so hopefully this all makes sense. I'm a little worried Josh's dress might have been a hallucination of mine, but I'm sure someone will tell me if I'm really that sleep-deprived. 

The designers, who all address Carolyn with that singsongy voice usually reserved for mean schoolteachers, get some good news from the stick figure -- they're going to Paris! And they're getting a tour of the House of Valentino! And they're learning about couture for a couture challenge! And they get to buy fabric and Janssens & Janssens! And you get a car, and you get a car, and you get a car! 

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<p>Mark&nbsp;Wahlberg in &quot;Ted&quot;</p>

Mark Wahlberg in "Ted"

Credit: Universal Pictures

'Skyfall,' 'Best Exotic,' 'Ted' join the usual in ACE Eddie nominations

All but 'Django Unchained' and 'The Master' accounted for

The American Cinema Editors (ACE) decided there was no rush and chose to hold its announcement for nominations honoring excellence in filmmaking until after the Oscar nominations landed. This despite being ready to announce on Tuesday. I applaud them for that. Just because the Academy says "jump" doesn't mean you have to.

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<p>Lena Dunham in &quot;Girls.&quot;</p>

Lena Dunham in "Girls."

Credit: HBO

Review: 'Girls' still up to bad behavior in season 2

Lena Dunham's show still one of TV's best, if most divisive
Hannah Horvath is getting her act together. If she can.
Hannah, the twentysomething heroine of “Girls” (played by the show’s creator, writer and director Lena Dunham) spent much of the HBO comedy’s first season alienating every person in her life — including many of the viewers who didn’t see the appeal of a show built around a young narcissist fumbling her way through the world. By the season’s end, she had chased away her best friend Marnie (Allison Williams), her boyfriend Adam (Adam Driver) and was alone on the beach at Coney Island, with a piece of wedding cake her only companion. 
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Credit: Touchstone Pictures

Roundup: The thinking man's Oscar crop?

Also: Ebert weighs in, and what to expect when you're expecting Seth MacFarlane

The Oscarweb today is mainly awash with responses to yesterday's Academy Award nominations, and little news besides, so let's lead with the most articulate of them. A.O. Scott, for one, is pretty thrilled with the list, seeing this year's Oscar class as an encouraging indication that there's still a place in the industry for entertaining, stimulating mainstream cinema for adults: "You may also notice a lot of big-studio releases without a superhero in sight. And, perhaps most remarkably, you will find movies that have already sparked passionate arguments and sold a lot of tickets. It would be hard to say the same about the last two best picture winners, 'The Artist' and 'The King’s Speech' ... What strikes me about this year’s Oscar nominees is how many of them invite, or even force, their viewers to think, and making thinking part of the pleasure they offer." Do you think this year's lineup represents an improvement on recent years?  [New York Times]

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<p>There are many reasons Hollywood rewarded 'Life Of Pi' with numerous nominations today, not the least of which is because it's so durn pretty.</p>

There are many reasons Hollywood rewarded 'Life Of Pi' with numerous nominations today, not the least of which is because it's so durn pretty.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

What the Oscar nominations really say about Hollywood 2013

This is the industry's chance to define themselves for the world each year

I do not cover the Oscars here at HitFix, something that was voluntary.  For one thing, we've got Greg Ellwood doing a great job of it with his Awards Campaign blog, and Greg has actually worked on Oscar campaigns back when he was working in studio publicity.  He understands the psychology of the campaigns, and he also knows the Academy members who are voting and he has a sense of what they feel as the season wears on.  Then we added Kris Tapley and Guy Lodge to the HitFix family, bringing their In Contention site into the fold, and that means we've got a lot of really smart and committed awards-season writers doing a great job of covering the ins and outs of Oscar all year round.

Then there's my whole attitude about the Oscars, which I've been vocal about here in the past.  One year, I did a live-tweet of "Vampire Circus" on Blu-ray during the Oscars, and then last year, I had a very strange experience when Greg had an experimental television delivered to my house and I ended up live-blogging a ceremony that was broadcast from an alternate dimension.  But this year, instead of just bitching about the awards again on nomination day, I thought I'd try something a little different, something that treats the Oscars seriously, but from a different perspective.

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<p>Tony&nbsp;Kushner reads his acceptance speech for writing &quot;Lincoln&quot;...during a commercial break.</p>

Tony Kushner reads his acceptance speech for writing "Lincoln"...during a commercial break.

Credit: HitFix

The critics choose embarrassment

A lot of bad decisions have the BFCA pointing in the wrong direction

I apologized to Broadcast Film Critics Association president Joey Berlin after this evening's Critics' Choice Movie Awards for being frank about it, but I couldn't tell a lie: this year's show was an embarrassment. Appalling, I'd go so far to say.

Why? You've got Tony Kushner on stage during a commercial break, that's why. You've got Rich Moore talking over the crowd during another one upon accepting his Best Animated Film prize, that's why. You've deteriorated into the People's Choice Awards with added air time for Jennifer Lawrence to make some more "Hunger Games" remarks and Judd Apatow padding a show that could have dealt a little more courtesy to the winners of the evening.

So if Kushner can't have air time, I'll give him a little in that snap shot to the left. It was just disgraceful, to reduce the screenplay categories to the sidelines like that. The crafts categories, added a few years back, have always been dished out on the red carpet and announced as a bumper to commercial break, but it's just wrong. I was sitting next to "Life of Pi" cinematographer Claudio Miranda. He joked that his win was the best kind because he didn't have to get up and make a speech. Nevertheless, it's a level of disrespect that I don't find in keeping with the BFCA's stated purpose.

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<p>Ben Affleck at the 18th annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards</p>

Ben Affleck at the 18th annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards

Credit: Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

'Argo' takes top honors at BFCA Critics' Choice Movie Awards

Acting wins for Day-Lewis, Chastain, Hoffman and Hathaway

It's been a day of bittersweet fortunes for "Argo." This morning, the popular political thriller's hopes of winning the Best Picture Oscar were cut down to size when Ben Affleck shockingly failed to make the Best Director lineup. Hours later, however, Affleck was the golden boy once more at the Broadcast Film Critics' Association's Critics' Choice Awards, as he won both the Best Picture and Best Director trophies --elbowing out "Lincoln," which had led the field with 13 nominations. If not for this morning's bombshell, Affleck would likely now be in the driver's seat for the Oscar. It's a weird season, this.

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<p>Kurse was one of Thor's most powerful opponents in the comics, but he had the help of The Beyonder, raising the question of whether or not the character might appear in 'Thor:&nbsp;The Dark World'</p>

Kurse was one of Thor's most powerful opponents in the comics, but he had the help of The Beyonder, raising the question of whether or not the character might appear in 'Thor: The Dark World'

Credit: Marvel Comics

Is The Beyonder going to join the Marvel movie universe in 'Thor: The Dark World'?

It would certainly turn up the stakes for 'The Avengers 2'

Is The Beyonder going to join the Marvel movie universe in "Thor: The Dark World" this coming November?

A few hours ago, I got an e-mail pitching me an interview with Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje because he has three movies coming out this year.  I don't need much convincing about him in general.  I've been a fan since he appeared as the terrifying Adibisi, and I'd like to interview him just to finally ask how the hell he kept that hat on in that series.  He was also Mr. Eko in "Lost," a role that he made seem more significant than it ended up being in the end.  He's a talented guy, and he's impossible to forget after you've seen him work.

So in this e-mail, they went over his roles this year.  First, there's "Bullet In The Head," the Walter Hill action film that stars Sylvester Stallone.  He's also going to be at Sundance to promote the film "The Inevitable Defeat Of Mister and Pete," which he stars in with Jennifer Hudson and Jordin Sparks.  But in the description of his role in "Thor: The Dark World," they highlight that he's playing both "Algrim The Strong" and "Kurse."

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<p>If I was friends with Emma Stone, I would go out of my way to find something to say to her every single day that would make her make this face.</p>

If I was friends with Emma Stone, I would go out of my way to find something to say to her every single day that would make her make this face.

Credit: HitFix

Emma Stone talks about working with Gosling again and dressing up for 'Gangster Squad'

One of Hollywood's most charming young stars does not disappoint

Not every movie star works for every audience.  There are people who make me happy every time they show up in a movie, and they haven't caught on with the mainstream for whatever reason, and there are movie stars I find baffling.  Often, fandom finds itself divided along gender lines for reasons both obvious and not so obvious.  What studios and filmmakers always hope for is a star who unites people, and Emma Stone appears to be just such a star.

There are many reasons people find her appealing.  She's got great comic timing, and she seems to handle herself just as well in interviews as she does when her dialogue is scripted.  She also rarely seems to take fame seriously, which is a healthy attitude.  She's been smart so far about the films she's chosen and the collaborators she works with, and if anyone in her age group is poised for a long and interesting career, it's her.

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