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<p>&quot;The Master&quot;</p>

"The Master"

Credit: The Weinstein Company

'The Master,' 'Ang Lee' win with Kansas City Film Critics Circle

Other prizes to 'Argo,' 'The Cabin in the Woods' and 'Amour'

The second-oldest critics group in the country (behind the NYFCC), the Kansas City Film Critics Circle, has announced its slate of 2012 winners. "The Master" took Best Picture while "Life of Pi" helmer Ang Lee won Best Director.  Daniel Day-Lewis and Jennifer Lawrence won top acting honors for "Lincoln" and "Silver Linings Playbook," respectively. Check out the full set of winners below and remember to keep track of the season at The Circuit.

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<p>Emayatzy Corinealdi in &quot;Middle of Nowhere.&quot;</p>

Emayatzy Corinealdi in "Middle of Nowhere."

Credit: AFFRM

African-American Film Critics hail 'Zero Dark Thirty,' 'Middle of Nowhere'

Ben Affleck takes Best Director, Denzel Washington is Best Actor

The African-American Film Critics' Association is an interesting group on the precursor circuit -- while not explicitly dedicated to promoting black cinema and artists in the manner of, say, the Image Awards, their selections invariably reflect their identity to some extent. This year, for example, four of their five acting winners -- Denzel Washington, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Nate Parker and Quvenzhané Wallis -- are African-American.

Meanwhile, though Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty" scooped yet another Best Picture gong, the group's biggest winner was African-American writer-director Ava DuVernay's "Middle of Nowhere." The indie drama landed four awards for Best Actress, Screenplay, Independent Film and Music, as well as placing at #4 on their 10 Best list. Nice to see this strong film having a day in the sun, even if its dynamite pair of supporting actresses, Lorraine Toussaint and Edwina Findley, couldn't defeat the redoubtable Sally Field. Full list of winners after the jump, and keep up with the trophy trail so far at The Circuit.

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<p>Tommy Lee Jones in &quot;Lincoln.&quot;&nbsp;</p>

Tommy Lee Jones in "Lincoln." 

Credit: Touchstone Pictures

'Lincoln' leads Houston Film Critics nods

'Anna Karenina' nabs a nomination... as the year's worst

“I think with each year, we come out and stake our ground on the question of best film, and particularly with some of our out-of-the-box choices.” So says Houston Film Critics' Society president Josh Starnes, and while I admire the sentiment, I'm struggling to identify too many out-of-the-box picks in their 2012 nominations list -- led by "Lincoln," with eight nods. Save a Best Picture nomination for the contentious "Cloud Atlas," and arguably a supporting mention for Judi Dench in "Skyfall," this looks largely like a copy-paste of umpteen other groups' lists this season, with "Les Misérables" and "The Master" also doing well with six nods apiece.

More wilful is their Worst Film of 2012 category, where the critics have decided to give Joe Wright's ambitious "Anna Karenina" a kicking -- and it's not the only film on the list that I rather like. Anyway, check out the full slate after the jump, and everything else at The Circuit.

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<p>&nbsp;Taylor Swift</p>

 Taylor Swift

Credit: Frank Augstein/AP

Music Power Rankings: Taylor Swift soars over Adele and Bruno Mars

Britney Spears and Mariah Carey also make the list

1. 12-12-12 Concert: The nearly six-hour Boomerfest raised more than $35 million for Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. From the line-up however, it would appear that only old, white rockers care about helping hurricane victims.

2. Taylor Swift:
It’s a banner week as “Red” returns to No. 1, Swift earns her first Golden Globes nomination, and she celebrates her 23rd birthday with new beau, One Direction’s Harry Styles. Hmmm, which one of these will we get a song about first? 

3. Adele: “21” is the gift that just keeps on giving. Billboard names the British singer the biggest artist of 2012 and her 2011 album the biggest seller. The sky’s not falling out of her career any time soon.

4. Rush:
The power trio finally gets into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame after years of lobbying bitching by its fans. KISS fans will now need to amp up their game.

5. Bruno Mars: He lands his 4th No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 shorter than any other solo male artist since Bobby Vinton 48 years ago. Maybe they can record a doo-wop duet together.

6. Whitney Houston: It’s a sad honor to be sure, but Houston was the “top trending” search of the year. Hey, at least the late legend came in ahead of Psy, who galloped into second place.

7. Britney Spears: Forbes names Spears the richest woman in music in 2012, shortly after naming Dr. Dre the richest artist in music. Note: neither one achieved this feat by putting out a new album in 2012. That tells you all you need to know about album sales, doesn’t it?

8. Mariah Carey:
Eighteen years after she first released it, the new holiday classic “All I Want For Christmas” finally enters the Top 40.

9. Depeche Mode: The British post-punk pioneers sign a new worldwide deal with Columbia Records. We hear it comes with their own personal Jesus.

10. Jenni Rivera:
RIP

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Martin Short and Paul McCartney on the 'Saturday Night Live' set.

Martin Short and Paul McCartney on the 'Saturday Night Live' set.

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'Saturday Night Live' – Martin Short And Paul McCartney

How did the 'SNL' vet and the legendary rocker close out 2012?

Tonight’s “Saturday Night Live” host Martin Short is no stranger to the show. After all, he was a big part of the show’s 10th season cast. That cast is unusual in the show’s history: Made up of many seasoned comic veterans brought in by then-producer Dick Ebersol after the departure of Eddie Murphy led to a domino effect of other repertory players either leaving or being fired, it was as much a presence in the writer’s room as onscreen. As such, Short (alongside other cast members such as Billy Crystal and Christopher Guest) had tremendous power to help shape what they did each Saturday night. A lot of those elements were pre-produced, which gives that tenth season something in common with the current thirty-eighth installment. So it makes a sort of sense to have Short join this particular cast on this particular night. That’s a bit of a stretch, to be sure. But it’s something that also feels right as I look at the ratio of live-to-taped segments then compared with now.

Because of Short’s history with the show, combined with tonight being the Christmas episode, and further combined with the presence of musical guest Paul McCartney, and one can well assume many surprises are in store for tonight’s installment. A note about such surprises: because I’m liveblogging this episode tonight, I’m going to refrain from speculating about rumors swirling around Al Gore’s interwebs at the outset here. There’s one particularly juicy one that is intriguing not just because of the sketch in question, but what that sketch’s presence may mean for the immediate future of the program as a whole.
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<p>&quot;Beasts of the Southern&nbsp;Wild&quot;</p>

"Beasts of the Southern Wild"

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Exclusive: 'Les Mis,' 'Django,' 'Beasts,' 'Amour' among 2012 scripts not eligible for WGA

A look a the official ballot reveals the absence of a few usual suspects

Every year it's worth noting that a number of the original and adapted screenplays in the hunt for Oscar consideration won't get the extra bump of a nomination from the Writers Guild of America (WGA). Reasons for failing to qualify include the writer of the script not being a guild member or not retroactively handling the requisite process, among other things.

After taking a look at the official WGA ballot this season, I count 15 scripts from our screenplay Contenders pages that will not be eligible for consideration. Many of them seem out of the Oscar hunt for the most part and the number of notable exclusions is smaller than normal.

In the original screenplay category, as always, Quentin Tarantino will not be competing for his work on "Django Unchained." He has never been a member of the guild, but of course, that didn't stop his scripts for "Pulp Fiction" and "Inglorious Basterds" to go on to Oscar recognition. (Tarantino was similarly not a member of the DGA until this year, but he received two nominations prior nominations from that group, nevertheless.)

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<p>&quot;Men in&nbsp;Black 3&quot;</p>

"Men in Black 3"

Credit: Columbia Pictures

'Cloud Atlas' fails to make the finalists for Best Makeup and Hairstyling

'Hitchcock,' 'Looper' and 'Snow White and the Huntsman' are among the seven

The Academy has announced its shortlist of seven Best Makeup and Hairstyling contenders. The films will proceed to the "bake-off" stage, where reels of the work put into the makeup and hairstyling effects will be screened for the branch and three nominees will be chosen, revealed alongside the rest of the Oscar nominations on January 10.

The immediate exclusion of note is "Cloud Atlas," which transformed a number of movie stars across a variety of eras, ages and even races. Some of the work was quite wonderful, but much of it was a bone of contention for some, and clearly, that bore itself out in the narrowing process for the branch.

Also absent is "Holy Motors," which isn't a shock, one supposes. Who knows if the membership even bothered to watch the film. Because you'd think, if they had, they would have seen that it's far and away the best representation of their contribution to the form this year. Alas, it wasn't meant to be, and with "Who Were We?" failing to make the finalist cut for Best Original Song, the film's Oscar hopes in general have likely been dashed.

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<p>&quot;Cloud Atlas&quot;&nbsp;had a strong presence throughout.</p>

"Cloud Atlas" had a strong presence throughout.

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Indiana Film Journalists Association announces longlists of nominees, 'The Master' leads the way

'Beasts of the Southern Wild' not far behind with seven

The Indiana Film Journalists Association has, for the first time this year, elected to publicly acknowledge its full list of nominees for superlatives to be announced on Monday. It's a massive list including, apparently, every film mentioned in each category by the group's respective members. Check out the full list of contending films and individuals below. "The Master" led the way with nine mentions. "Beasts of the Southern Wild" wasn't too far behind with seven. As always, keep track of all this madness throughout the season via The Circuit.

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<p>Jenna Elfman, Bill Pullman and Martha MacIsaac in &quot;1600 Penn.&quot;</p>

Jenna Elfman, Bill Pullman and Martha MacIsaac in "1600 Penn."

Credit: NBC

Review: NBC's '1600 Penn' tries to make family comedy about the First Family

Bill Pullman, Jenna Elfman and Josh Gad head to the White House

Early in the second episode of NBC's new sitcom "1600 Penn," the President of the United States himself, Dale Gilchrist, is in the Situation Room of the White House for a briefing on terrorism. Only all Gilchrist can think about is a secret that his oldest daughter Becca didn't tell him, and as he begins to realize that his military advisers also don't like to tell him things, he demands to know why.

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<p>Abi-Maria of &quot;Survivor: Philippines&quot;</p>

Abi-Maria of "Survivor: Philippines"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Abi-Maria Gomes talks 'Survivor: Philippines'

The season's villain doesn't blame culture or editing
"I do not want to blame it on culture and I do not want to blame it on editing."
 
With those words, uttered late in her exit interview, I found myself coming very close to liking Abi-Maria Gomes, the primary villain of "Survivor: Philippines."
 
Yes, Abi-Maria still makes excuses for the actions that led to her becoming pariah on "Survivor" this season, actions like helping to cause the implosion of her tribe thanks to a fabricated feud with RC or tormenting a vulnerable Lisa or gloating after a Reward. But those excuses include a torn ACL that threw her out of synch from the start of the game, rather than criticizing teammates or Jeff Probst or her Brazilian heritage.
 
In fact, Abi-Maria sounds pretty honest about the way she behaved in the Philippines, or at least about the way it looked like she behaved, since she describes much of the experience as "foggy."
 
In the conversation, Abi-Maria talks about her thwarted desire to be "a Brazilian delight" and how she and RC probably would have butted heads even if Pete hadn't created chaos. She also discusses her aggressive confrontation with Mike Skupin on Wednesday's episode, including the strategy behind calling him an "idiot" and a "moron" at Tribal Council.
 
Click through for the full interview...
 
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<p>The cover of Bruno Mars' &quot;Unorthodox Jukebox&quot;</p>

The cover of Bruno Mars' "Unorthodox Jukebox"

Taylor Swift's 'Red' looks good for another week atop the Billboard 200

Bruno Mars will be locked out of No. 1 by 'Red'

Bruno Mars’ “Unorthodox Jukebox” is no match for Taylor Swift’s “Red,” as the Nashville-based singer’s latest album spends a second week at No. 1 after returning there this week.

“Red,” which came out in October, will likely sell up to 200,000 copies next week, giving it a commanding lead over Michael Buble’s “Christmas,” which is aimed at No. 2, but “Jukebox” may overcome it by the time the chart week ends on Sunday. Now, both titles are projected to sell between 150,000 and 160,000, according to Hits Daily Double. Aside from Mars’ “Jukebox,” Game’s “Jesus Piece” is the only other debut in the Top 10 at No. 6.

Rod Stewart’s “Merry Christmas, Baby” will move another 125,000 units for No. 4. One Direction’s “Take Me Home” is No. 5, with sales of up to 115,000.

Other Christmas titles likely having their last hurrah in the top 10 are Blake Shelton’s “Cheers, It’s Christmas” at No. 7 and Lady Antebellum’s “On This Winter’s Night” at No. 9.

Phillip Phillips’ “World From The Side Of the Moon” is at No. 8, while “Girl On Fire,” Alicia Keys’ former No. 1 falls to No. 10.

Both Wiz Khalifa’s “O.N.I.F.C.” and Ke$ha’s “Warrior” fall out of the top 10 after bowing at No. 2 and No 6, respectively, this week.

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The 'Fringe' crew look to find another piece of the puzzle.

The 'Fringe' crew look to find another piece of the puzzle.

Credit: FOX

'Fringe' Recap - 'Black Blotter'

Heading towards the finish line, the show indulges in its best and worst instincts side-by-side.

“Fringe” positioned tonight’s ninth episode “Black Blotter” as its final edition of “the nineteenth episode”. That’s been the slot for past episodes such as “Brown Betty”, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide”, and “Letters of Transit”. I don’t like the idea of arbitrarily assigning a slot in each season as “the completely off-the-wall trippy installment,” since that goes against what should be the organic process of telling a long-form narrative on the small screen. But that quibble isn’t a particularly big one, especially since I tend to like when the show gets even weirder than usual. “Black Botter” wasn’t particularly strange by the show’s standards (except for the Monty Python sequence, which made ME feel like I’d just taken a whole buncha drugs), and it wasn’t up to the standards of the three episodes just mentioned. But it was a solid, if wildly inconsistent, hour of television that gave us both the best AND worst of “Fringe” in sixty minutes.

 
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