Latest Blog Posts

<p>Best Actress winner Maribel Verdu in &quot;Blancanieves.&quot;</p>

Best Actress winner Maribel Verdu in "Blancanieves."

Credit: Cohen Media Group

Snow White adaptation 'Blancanieves' beats 'The Impossible' at Spain's Goya Awards

The true-life tsunami drama takes Best Director and four tech awards

"The Impossible" remains, to my mind, one of this season's biggest lost contenders. With a more focused campaign and an earlier release date, this visceral true-life survival story set against the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami could, I think, have gone over in a big way with Academy voters, reaping a lot more than a lone Best Actress nod for Naomi Watts. Anyway, spilt milk.

As it stands, the Spanish production's biggest night of the season was always set to be its home country's Goya Awards. Even there, however, the local box-office smash wound up ceding top honors to "Blancanieves," Pablo Berger's artful silent take on the Snow White story (yep, another one). The film, which I was charmed by at last year's London Film Festival, was Spain's submission for this year's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, but didn't make the Academy's shortlist.   

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<p>Hopefully, my family's time off will turn out better than the Simpsons' trip to Itchy &amp;&nbsp;Scratchy Land.</p>

Hopefully, my family's time off will turn out better than the Simpsons' trip to Itchy & Scratchy Land.

Credit: FOX

Alan Sepinwall's week off

Time for your local TV critic to take the week off, with a few pre-written exceptions

Hey all, it is vacation time, and I'm going to do my best to completely unplug from now until Sunday night, when I'll be back to watch and write about the Oscar telecast.

The blog won't go completely dark while I'm gone, though. I've seen a handful of my regular shows ("Parks and Recreation" and "Community," to name two) in advance already and will be publishing short posts on them to give people a forum to talk about them in my absence. And I'll have one or two longer posts that I wrote last week that will be going up at certain points during the week.

If there's no post on something, it's because I didn't see it in advance, and/or I ran out of time trying to prep things for this vacation. I will not be revisiting anything I missed, as there will be a too many fresh things to write about. So if "Zero Hour" episode 2 turns out to be the show that changed television forever, and I wasn't here to remark upon that, I'm sorry.

Play nice, stay safe, and I'll see you sometime on Sunday night.

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Credit: DreamWorks Studios

Roundup: Connecticut continues to bother 'Lincoln'

Also: The global dominance of 'Life of Pi,' and an imaginary Oscar for 'Argo'

In these final days of voting, the last thing you want is headlines like "The Oscar for Best Fabrication," yet the already ailing "Lincoln" got saddled with that in a Maureen Dowd op-ed that was the weekend's most talked-about Oscar piece. Seems this story of a Connecticut congressman taking issue with some artistic license taken by Tony Kushner, essentially switching the 13th Amendment vote of the state's House members, won't go away. Kushner, who had the error pointed out to him at an early stage by one of the film's historical advisors, continues to defend his position, saying, "History doesn’t always organize itself according to the rules of drama." Congressman Joe Courtney continues to push for the error to be amended in the film before it is integrated into school syllabi across the country. What do you think? [New York Times]

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"The Real Housewives of Atlanta"

 "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" 

Credit: Bravo

'The Real Housewives of Atlanta' recap: 'Praise the Pageant'

Cynthia's pageant hits some rough patches and Porsha tries parenting

Le sigh. It's time for yet another uneven episode of "The Real Housewives of Atlanta," which alternates between kinda boring and off-the-rails nutjob crazy. This week, it's a little more the former simply because Kenya is behaving herself like a proper Miss USA and not running around twirling her dress. I didn't realize how dependent I had become on Kenya for "RHoA" drama, sort of like ignoring a creeping caffeine addiction or a suspicious mole, but now I'm confronted with the reality that the show is just kind of dull without her shenanigans, whether I like her or not.

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<p>&quot;Life of Pi&quot;&nbsp;may have won the most prizes but &quot;Skyfall&quot;&nbsp;took a key award.</p>

"Life of Pi" may have won the most prizes but "Skyfall" took a key award.

Credit: Sony Pictures

'Skyfall,' 'Life of Pi,' 'Les Mis,' 'Wreck-It Ralph' and 'Game of Thrones' win MPSE Awards

One of the toughest categories to predict just got tougher

With the costumers set to declare on Tuesday, the Motion Picture Sound Editors' 60th annual Golden Reel Awards, announced this evening, were the penultimate industry kudos in advance of next weekend's Oscar showdown. And it was "Life of Pi" that came out the big winner, taking two awards on the night. But 007 had some plans of his own.

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<p>A scene from the &quot;Downton Abbey&quot; finale</p>

A scene from the "Downton Abbey" finale

Credit: PBS

'Downton Abbey' finale recap: Season 3, Episode 7

Everything is mostly fine for the season finale until it isn't

It's been a long, difficult third season for "Downton Abbey," and it wasn't too much for any of us to hope that the show might cruise calmly into a happy ending with this, the seventh and last episode of the season. Of course, this would be the point in the recap where I tell the four of you who've been able to sidestep spoilers for this episode to watch first and then come back. I would hate to be the person to blow the twist in this one for you, simply because it must have taken great effort to block out the hints and full-blown revelations that have been everywhere short of the nutrition labels for Wheetabix. There might even be one there, if you read the fine print. 

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<p>Chris Pratt and Joel&nbsp;Edgerton in &quot;Zero&nbsp;Dark&nbsp;Thirty&quot;</p>

Chris Pratt and Joel Edgerton in "Zero Dark Thirty"

Credit: Sony Pictures

'Argo,' 'Zero Dark Thirty,' 'Sugar Man,' 'Mad Men' and 'Breaking Bad' win WGA Awards

Chalk up another for Ben Affleck's steamroller

Hey, you know that film "Argo?" It won another award. That's right, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) has handed the film the prize for Best Adapted Screenplay over heavyweights such as "Lincoln" and "Silver Linings Playbook," and surely no one is shocked by this turn of events, right? I know everyone has been holding out expectation that respect for Tony Kushner might carry him and his brilliant work on through to a win there and at the Oscars, but that's just not been the tone of the season.

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<p>Danai Gurira as Michonne in &quot;The Walking Dead.&quot;</p>

Danai Gurira as Michonne in "The Walking Dead."

Credit: AMC

Review: 'The Walking Dead' - 'Home'

While Rick and the Governor go wandering, Glen and Andrea try to keep things together

A review of tonight's "The Walking Dead" coming up just as soon as you give me a specific answer to a specific question...

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<p>On &quot;Girls,&quot;&nbsp;Ray (Alex Karpovsky) and Adam (Adam Driver)&nbsp;hang out.</p>

On "Girls," Ray (Alex Karpovsky) and Adam (Adam Driver) hang out.

Credit: HBO

Review: 'Girls' - 'Boys'

Adam and Ray team up, Hannah gets an offer and Marnie realizes where she stands with Booth

A review of tonight's "Girls" coming up just as soon as my boyfriend is doing lights for Carly Rae Jepsen...

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<p>Not a bad place to build and unbuild sandcastles</p>

Not a bad place to build and unbuild sandcastles

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' Premiere - 'Business in the Front, Party in the Back'

Eleven teams head to Bora Bora to start the race for a million
You know how I'm going to begin this "Amazing Race" premiere recap and I know how I'm going to begin this "Amazing Race" premiere recap. So we might as well do it together, eh?
All together now...
"Amazing Race" premiere episodes should NEVER be less than 90 minutes and should always, ideally, be two hours. 
Given that "The Amazing Race" has superior 18-49 numbers to "The Good Wife" and given that "The Good Wife" has comically low repeat numbers, surely it would behoove both "The Amazing Race" and CBS to set that particular regulation in stone.
There aren't any objections, are there? There are 22 contestants out there and they're engaged in lots of busy-work and even in two hours, it would be hard to give all of them personalities, but I find that hour-long "Amazing Race" premieres are almost impossible to recap, because I'm spending two-thirds of my time attempting to learn one superficial difference between otherwise similar teammates and almost no time deciding who I like or dislike and even less time than that getting emotionally invested in the results of the individual Leg.
And it's almost like the producers willingly sacrificed that latter aspect in Legs like Sunday's (February 17) premiere. Unless you are related to the team that was eliminated, either by blood or natural affinity to their shared profession, there isn't a chance that their departure will cause you even the slightest hint of disappointment. So Sunday was a basically affectless "Amazing Race" premiere, which I don't think needs to be the case. 
Of course, it can't just be an example of CBS telling the producers, "Look, we've got the space and we wouldn't mind the ratings, so give us a two-hour cut of this premiere." Sunday's Leg was not designed to be padded out over two hours. It featured only two-and-a-half challenges and the episode's key challenge was designed for HD splendor and adrenaline junkies, not for in-Race difficulty or potential character illustration. 
The "Race" producers would say that the design of the opening Leg was, indeed, designed for improved "Getting to know you" time. Starting with a Double Roadblock episode meant that all 22 Racers did something on Sunday's episode, while a single Roadblock and a Detour might leave one of the two Racers a cipher. That's not necessarily wrong. I understand. But one of the two Roadblocks just showcased screaming and falling. I learn very little about contestants from how well they scream and fall. 
But I guess when I think back on the Leg architecture for Sunday's episode, it could have been a very good in-season Leg. It only failed because it was a premiere and it only failed because it was only 43 minutes. 
Let's talk more about the premiere, including a first read on each of the teams, after the break... [Warning: Because I had a screener for this one, I was able to write it early and, in writing it early, I over-wrote. Apologies.]
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<p>Seamus McGarvey on the set of &quot;Anna Karenina&quot;</p>

Seamus McGarvey on the set of "Anna Karenina"

Credit: Focus Features

Tech Support: Seamus McGarvey on shooting 'Anna Karenina' objectively and subjectively

Joe Wright's DP of choice picked up his second Oscar nomination to date last month

Cinematographer Seamus McGarvey has worked with Joe Wright since a 25-year old Wright made the 1998 short film “The End.” Since then the British filmmaker has become one of his generation’s most notable directors and McGarvey has been along for the ride every step of the way.

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Christoph Waltz is Jesus H. Christ in 'SNL' spoof 'Djesus Uncrossed'

Christoph Waltz is Jesus H. Christ in 'SNL' spoof 'Djesus Uncrossed'

A.O. scott says 'It's a less violent version of 'Passion of the Christ''

The race for best supporting actor is still up in the air, but one nominee was doing his best Saturday night to demonstrate his versatility to moviegoers and any academy members up past their bed timees watching "SNL." "Django Unchained's" Christoph Waltz was pretty fantastic in his inaugural hosting gig and one of the show's most memorable bits found Waltz spoofing his two most memorable movies to date, "Django" and his Oscar-winning "Inglourious Basterds."  The skit, which was shot in pseduo Tarantino style, has Waltz playing none other than Jesus H. Christ (the H is silent) in - you guessed it - "Jesus Uncrossed." For more on Waltz's "SNL" hosting performance check out Ryan McGee's blow by blow recap.

And if you haven't seen Taran Killam's Brad Pitt impression, well, enjoy the embedded video below...

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